My blog is where I post things I have learned through my own personal Bible study. Join me in digging deep into the Word to find the gold hidden inside. And feel free to email me if you think there's a theological error in any of my posts or if there's a topic you want me to cover in my next post.
What Is Christmas?
2 years ago.

Take away the Christmas tree. Take away the lights. Take away the presents. Take away the family gatherings, Christmas goodies, and all the holiday cheer. Take everything away.

Stop baking your cookies and let them burn. Stop decorating the tree and let it remain bare. Stop wrapping the presents and forget about exchanging gifts. Stop playing the Christmas music and hear the beauty of the silent night. Forget the holiday cheer and the flippant "it's all about Christ" attitude. Strip Christmas of everything festive and get down on your knees. What on earth has happened here? What is Christmas?

Whatever happened to the Christ in Christmas? What distinguishes Christmas from any other special event except the commercialistic festiveness? What is Christmas really about anymore? Is there anything left amid all the hustle and bustle? Why even celebrate it? Why do we pretend it's all about Christ and yet act as if it isn't about Him at all--as if the holiday celebrations exceed Christ's birth in importance? Why do we get more excited about the festivities than about the true reason behind why we ought to celebrate Christmas--the birth of Jesus Christ? It would be better not to celebrate Christmas at all than to make it a mockery of Christ's birth. Does joy to the world mean the joy of John the Baptist leaping in his mother's womb at the coming of Jesus' mother? Does it mean the joy of the angels singing in the heavens? Does it mean the joy of the shepherds forsaking all to worship before Him? Or is our joy to the world merely a representative of our getting caught up in holiday festivities?

People flippantly say "oh yea, I know the holiday is about Jesus", but it ends there. Too often we try to focus merely on the happy go lucky things about Christmas because we either want to ignore the reason for the season, or don't see a way to bring it to light amidst all theh commercialism. How can we lie like to ourselves that? How can we profess to celebrate Christ at Christmas and yet the only things we are really celebrating are the traditions that just so happen to bring up Christ? It is time that we strip everything away and face the naked truth of the birth of Christ.

Christ's birth was spoken of at His dedication by Simeon when he said that He was destined for the fall and rising of many, and for a sign which will be spoken against. He went on to say to Mary that things would happen that would be as a sword piercing her spirit, and that the thoughts of many would be revealed.

Sounds like something to be joyful and festive about, doesn't it? Christ did not come to throw a party on earth. Christ came to bring salvation to all. It would bring the rise and fall of many. Jesus Christ is more loved and more hated than any other person or thing in the entire world. Yet if all of this is true, why is joy and rejoicing and glory mentioned numerous times surrounding Jesus' birth? Because of the salvation He brings. He brings judgment to the unbelieving, but life eternal to those who believe.

For those who believe, Christ's birth is indeed a time of joy and rejoicing, but to those who are perishing, it ought to be an awakening call that there is something serious beneath the feet of all the commercially festive snow we have packed on top of ground zero of Christmas. Who are we to sit around a lit Christmas tree, drinking mugs of hot cocoa and opening presents when during Christmas day millions of people are dying around the world without the hope of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ? The day we set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ is to us who believe a most precious gift of eternal salvation, but to those who do not believe it is a foretelling of the day when they will stand before the throne of God and cast into eternal hell fire because they did not believe. Why? Because we pretended Merry Christmas but celebrated Happy Holidays. We get caught up in Christmas cheer rather than the Christmas gift of God. We have and know the truth, so why are we letting the festivities of Christmas drown our voice--and why are we not even using our voice?

How can we deem it acceptable to sing Christmas carols when we don't use that same mouth to spread the true meaning of Christmas--the gift of Jesus Christ bringing eternal salvation to all who believe? Christmas festivities are innocent and fine, until they shove Jesus out into the cold. A Christ-less Christmas that talks about Christ, but acts like anything but, should be repulsive to us, and yet it is what we do every year.

I speak to myself as well as to all of you. I do not use my voice enough to spread the gospel. It's easy when someone changes the subject away from the things of God to give up and say "oh well, I tried". O be thankful God did not give up that easily on us! To the point where He sent His only Son to be born in a stable - a mere filthy cave, so that you and I and the person shivering outside in the snow could experience what is indeed a worthy cause for celebration: the salvation of our souls, what 1 Peter calls the end--the climax, the ultimate end and goal--of our faith.

It's easy to judge others and say "well what are you going to do about it?" but that is not our position. It is not our position to judge others, whether friends or family, sons or daughters, especially if it is something we ourselves struggle with. If we want to make a change, then our duty is to lead by example. The world sees Christians not celebrating Christmas any different than they do, and no wonder everybody thinks it's just about the festivities. No wonder they mock Jesus, seeing that even Christians do the same on Christmas. There is nothing wrong with celebration. That is, unless we let that become the main focus, and bury Christ beneath the snow.

I challenge you, as we draw near to Christmas, and as the spirit grows, to keep this in mind as you participate in your holiday festivities. With this in mind bake your cookies, decorate your Christmas tree, wrap your presents, and play your Christmas music. As you do all these things, ask yourself, what am I doing in the midst of all the festivities to keep the reason for the season alive in me and in others? What does Christmas mean to me?

He Said Be Still
2 years ago.
"Alarm clock screaming bare feet hit the floor, it's off to the races everybody out the door. I'm feeling like I'm falling behind, it's a crazy life. Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can, trying to push a little harder, trying to get the upper hand. So much to do in so little time, it's a crazy life. It's ready, set, go it's another wild day when the stress is on the rise in my heart."

Sound familiar? Life is busy. No, let me reword that: Life is crazy busy! We spend our lives in one big crazy rush, juggling school, work, projects, appointments, and the like, and have no time to sit, relax and reflect. What happened to the little things in life? What happened to the smiles on our faces and the memories we made? What happened that took all our personal prayer time away? Isn't there more to life than rushing from one appointment to another? I think so.

You see, human beings were not made simply to be robots, rushing hither and thither simply to accomplish a set of tasks in a day. If that were the case we would be no better than animals. What do animals do? Wake up, eat, drink, do a few other things, and then go to sleep again. Surely human beings, made in the image of God, are more than that. God gave us life. Life is a verb. After all we do move, do we not? Therefore life is a verb. The verb tense for life is live. Human beings were made to LIVE: Love, Invest, Vision, Eternity. That is in itself is an immense subject I hope to do a blog series on eventually, but that is not the topic to be covered in this post.

So with all of this rushing around, when was the last time we had time to, well, not rush around? When was the last time we spent quality time with family and friends? When was the last time we opened our Bibles and realized that it doesn't just say "Go!" but that it also says "Be still"? The very same Jesus who said for us to go and make disciples told the sea to be still.

I'm not saying a busy life is a bad life, but we tend to lose sight of the little things as well as the big picture when we focus too much on merely getting through a day's schedule. We may have accomplished everything on our to-do list for the day, yet not even take the time to give a hug to a family member or friend who wasn't feeling to well that day, or to even notice they weren't feeling well. We may have made it to the end of another day yet totally forget the big picture, the "why" behind it all: why we're alive, why we live another day, why do this instead of that, etc.

Psalm 46 is a very applicable passage in light of this:

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah - Psalm 46:1-7

Why do we rush? Because we want to accomplish something, is it not? Can we not trust in God, our refuge and strength? Like I said, there's nothing wrong with being busy, but oh, we cannot let the busyness of life drown out what's most important!

Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. - Psalm 46:8-9

What a mighty God! We see evidences of His handiwork all around us, whether it's the forests, the mountains, the deserts, the oceans, and all of that. It's one of the reasons I love nature. The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and the Pacific shore off of California are among two of my favorites. Nature just screams evidence of a Creator. But the works of the Lord are obviously more than just nature. Consider human life for example. Is that not a work of the Lord? Consider the salvation of souls. Is that not the work of the Lord? When we spend our entire lives rushing from start to finish we miss out on these things.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah - Psalm 46:10-11

And now we come to that phrase, "be still". Be still and know. Know what? That He is the Lord! Honestly, how much time do we spend putting away the distractions of life to worship Him? Worship does not happen only during the hour we may spend at church, nay worship can be anywhere, anytime, when we lay aside the distractions of this life and focus on the One who made the forests, the mountains, the deserts, the oceans, etc. The One who made human life. The One who has done exceedingly above everything we could ask, dream, or hope for. He is with us. And He is to be exalted. To exalt means to lift up. We need to take time to remove our focus from our schedules and turn our eyes upon Him. To spend time worshipping Him, whether that means at church, or walking in nature, or in our interactions with family and friends.

Jesus used the same phrase "be still" when He stopped the storm in Mark 4:

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still." And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. - Mark 4:39

The wind ceased and there was a great calm. How much calm to we have in our lives? How much so we appreciate those little things in life? How much do we smile and remember those memories? How often to we take out our Bibles to read and pray? How often do we "be still"? Is there a great calm, or is the storm still blowing furiously and rushing from one thing to another?

The quote I inserted at the beginning of this post is actually the lyrics to a song by Johnny Diaz called "Breathe". The song is below if you want to listen to it. The question for us is, what will we do? He said be still. Will we? Will we put away phones, books, and all other distractions, and take time breathe Him in? Will we take time to appreciate those big little things in life? Will we put a smile on our faces and remember those precious memories? Will we take out our Bibles to read and pray? It's time to be still and know.

Don't Fake It
2 years ago.

Nobody likes a fake. Fake people who pretend to be something they're not. People like genuineness and authenticity. Sincerity. We tend to gravitate toward people who have an atmosphere of sincerity about them. We sense this, and it makes it easier to connect with that person. We look at Proverbs 18:24 and see that "a man who has friends must himself be friendly". In the King James Version (that was the NKJV) this portion of the verse reads: "a man that hath friends must shew himself friendly".

Using the KJV's own built in self defining dictionary (for more information on that see the book In Awe Of Thy Word by G.A. Riplinger) we look for other places in Scripture where the words "shew himself" are used. Not surprisingly we find related to "shew himself" the phrases "a worthy man" (1 Kings 1:52) and "strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9). Looking up the words "that hath friends" brings us to John 15:13, which tells us that there is no greater love than one laying down his life for his friends. Thus using Scripture to interpret Scripture, a friend is "a worthy man, strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him, and who would lay down his life for his friends"! Doesn't that sound a lot like Jesus?! I love it how every time we study the Bible everything points to Him.

In other words, the Bible associates friendship with sincerity. But what is sincerity? We're familiar with the word, and use it in our speech, but what does the Bible have to say about sincerity? Culture today twists so many words up that we think it changes the meaning of the word in the Bible. Take the word "love" for instance. The word love appears hundreds of times in the Bible. Yet love is a word twisted and warped by culture so much that its often hard to define what it actually is. Love could mean anything from "lovin' this pizza" to love between friends, to love between married couples, etc. And in English one four letter word covers it all. Terrible, isn't it? But I'm getting off track. Let's take a look at what the Bible has to say about sincerity.

Let's first look at Paul's letters to Timothy. Timothy was a young pastor under the tutelage of Paul, and for sure one of the important things Paul would want Timothy to know is genuineness in his service and faith. Let's take a look at 1 Timothy 1:3-7:

As I urged you when I went to Macedonia--remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk.

In verse 5 we see the phrase "sincere faith." One of the beautiful things about the Bible is it's tendency to repeat the same things over again using different words to drive the point home. Truly it is a double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Here "sincere faith" is coupled with "pure heart" and "good conscience". Sincere finds its synonyms in "pure" and "good".

When we think of the word "pure" what often comes to mind is an unblemished white goat or a spotless white robe. Something white that has not been tarnished. Apply that to friendships. A genuine friend doesn't try to fit in with the crowd to gain recognition and friendship. A truly sincere friend doesn't mask himself/herself but is open, ready to help and be helped. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor, for if they fall one will lift up his companion."

Let's move on to 2 Timothy 1:3-5.

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

Where do "sincere", "genuine" or synonyms appear in this passage? Verse 5 mentions genuine faith. Again! Is this a coincidence that Paul begins both of his letters to Timothy by bringing up sincere/genuine faith? I think not. In this passage we see genuine faith being passed down from generation to generation. Sincerity breeds sincerity. If you are sincere and genuine to others, they will want to be the same to you. And what else is mentioned here? Prayer! Yes! Of course! Prayer is always vital! If a Christian sincerely wants the best for others, will he/she not pray for them?

Our next passage is 1 Corinthians 5, verses 6-8:

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sincerity and truth go hand in hand. They are opposites of malice and wickedness. The passage compares sincerity and truth to unleavened bread, and glorying, malice and wickedness to leavened bread. Leaven "puffs up" bread to make it larger. Glorying, or boasting, is often the result of a "puffed up" head. That seems to be the analogy here. Malice often comes from the thought of being better than the person the malice is directed at. Sincerity and truth are not like that (James 3:17 & 2 Corinthians 1:12). Sincerity and truth do not pride themselves in being better than others, rather they sincerely seeks the genuine good of a friend. And we cannot forget what the passage says: "For Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us". Let that be the ultimate reason for sincerity, for was not Christ's sacrifice the ultimate of sincerity in His love for us?

Moving on we come to Philippians 1:9-11:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

What is the fourth word in this passage? It is "pray". Once again the Bible emphasizes how essential prayer is to be in every detail of the Christian life.

The phrase "be sincere" appears in verse 10 along with the synonyms "approve the things that are excellent", "filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" and "without offense".

Now this does not mean that because Christianity offends some people that we should be sincere and abandon it; not at all! The Greek word translated "without offense" is aproskopos. Aproskopos is a compound word formed from the prefix of negation, "a-", and another Greek word, proskopto. Proskopto is used in John 11:10 where it is translated "stumbles". Therefore another Scripturally defined synonym of aproskopos is "not stumble". A sincere friend is not going to want to do something that is going to cause his/her friend to stumble.

Sincere people approve the things that are excellent. Philippians 4:8 tells us that "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things." These are excellent things. To drive the point home, a genuine friend is not going to talk about junk. Why? Because it is not approved.

Sincere people are filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ. What are these? What else but the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5?

Wow, if you're thinking what I'm thinking, it looks like the Bible has set up an impossible to attain definition of sincerity! Which would make it look like the only sincere person is Jesus! And that is indeed true to a point. Let's look at love again. Who is the true perfection of love? Jesus. Does that mean we are incapable of loving? No, but Jesus is who we are called to imitate. If you are familiar with asymptotes in math, you know that an asymptote is an imaginary line that the values of a function come infinitely close to without ever touching. Such is it in this case. We can never be capable of loving as Jesus loved, but as we grow in our faith and become more like Him, we will learn more and more what His love and His sincerity is like as we grow in doing those things ourselves.

Let's take a look at another verse, 1 Peter 1:22:

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.

Notice the trend here? Sincerity doesn't just apply to friendships, it applies to every kind of relationship, whether that be family, spouse, significant other, and even God. Is not the God who proved the genuineness of His love deserving of that kind of sincerity from us? Let's take a look at Joshua 24:14:

"Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!

Joshua is about to die. He is making his final speech to the Israelite people. This speech is filled with exhortations to serve God and not fall away. Only in God could they succeed, and they needed to serve Him genuinely. They needed to be so on fire and so in tune with God that there would be no chance of them falling away.

Such should it be in our lives. We can't just go through the motions of serving God. He wants our whole hearts. He wants us to be so on fire for Him that His passion burns within us. Simply "OK" is not enough. Halfhearted service is not genuine, as we have seen. Remember, part of our definition of a friend was someone who was strong on the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. And is God not perfect toward us?

Romans 12:9 tells us to "love without hypocrisy". Hypocrisy is getting after someone for doing what you do yourself. Like demanding good iron while being rusty iron yourself (See my blog post As Iron). It says love without hypocrisy! Love sincerely! Let His passion so burn within you that sincerity, authenticity, and genuineness so radiate through you that people are attracted to you and ask you what makes you different! And it's a good way to build friendships too, is it not?

People, this is the God who redeemed our souls from everlasting damnation in hell and reconciled us to His one and only Son Jesus Christ to live with Him for eternity in His kingdom! We need to be all the way on fire, not partly. Sincerely, genuinely, wholeheartedly passionate for Him and His will. At the end of my life I don't want be lying on my deathbed thinking about my life and saying, "What if I had given everything?" What if I had always been there for my friends? What if I had been a better father to my kids? What if I had put more effort into my relationship with my wife? What if I had served God with my whole heart instead of mere lip service? What if __________? Fill in the blank.

No regrets. Not this time. I don't want any. I'm not going to fake it. Are you with me on this? Let's roll.

Matthew West wrote a song called The Motions, a very applicable song to the content of this post. It's still one of my favorites today. Take a moment and listen to it as this post comes to a close:

As Iron
2 years ago.
As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. - Proverbs 27:17

This verse from Proverbs 27 is well known to many of us. Many verses in Proverbs deal with the topic of friendship. The world we live in today is a dangerous place, no less than it was back in Solomon's day, and in choosing our friends we need to be very careful. A famous quote says "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future." Friends play a powerful role in our lives. Some friends come and go, others are lifelong friends. Each one leaves their mark on us.

The verse we are looking at is comparing friends to iron. Specifically, iron sharpening iron. Think about this for a moment. When two pieces of metal rub against each other for a period of time, what happens? The metal becomes shiny. That's one of the many purposes of steel wool, which is a type of "cloth" made of fine strips of metal that is used in polishing. Another example of this would be to look at a knife that has just been sharpened. The sharpened edge is shinier than the rest of the blade.

So let's look at the mental picture so far. We have two pieces of metal rubbing against each other and polishing each other. An exact picture of what Solomon is portraying in our verse when he references friends sharpening each other's countenances.

But what if one of the pieces of metal is rusty? What happens when it rubs against the other piece of metal? Think about it. What happens when you brush against rust on a building or a car? The rust comes off on your clothing. In our scenario the rusty metal and the normal piece of metal aren't going to be polishing each other. The good metal isn't going to polish off the rust off the rusty metal. Instead, the abrasive rust on the bad metal is going to come off on the good metal, and it will be negatively effected. If this goes on for long enough, it can cause both pieces to become nothing but two pieces of worthless rust.

How does this look when applied to the verse? What is the rusty metal? What is the good metal? How does this come into play when we're talking about friends? Good, godly friends are the good iron. Bad friends and influences are rusty iron.

What kind of "metal" are we rubbing against? What kind of friends are we associating with? Are our friends godly Christians who will polish us? Or are they bad influences that will just get us rusty? You may think you are invincible and not influenced by those around you, but that just isn't so. No matter how strong a person thinks they are, everyone is influenced by the people around them, in both big and small ways. Two pieces of metal rubbing against each other are not going to remain unchanged.

But what does this say about ourselves? If godly friends polish us, and ungodly friends make us rusty, what are we doing about ourselves to make sure we ourselves are good iron that polishes others? Proverbs 18:24a says that "A man who has friends must himself be friendly". In other words, if we want to attract good friends, we have to be a good friend ourselves.

Iron machinery cannot help but rub against other iron parts, but having good iron as opposed to rusty iron makes a big difference in the efficiency and quality of production. When two people are friends, they rub off on each other. A good friend, like Proverbs says, sharpens the countenance, and polishes it. And friends who are not good influences are going to affect us negatively.

Now this isn't to say we are to shut ourselves up and not associate with unbelivers at all. We just need to be wary and make sure our close friends--the ones who influence us the most--are "good iron". Solomon from his lofty palace saw lots of stupidity among people in choosing who to associate with. Take the youth in Proverbs 7 for example. That's why over and over again Solomon in Proverbs emphasizes the need to choose one's friends carefully.

As this post comes to a close, take a look at our verse one more time in light of what we have just covered:

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. - Proverbs 27:17
Trusting God With Goals
2 years ago.

We look at our goals and we fear we will never accomplish them. We think the chasm separating who we are now and who we want to be is too big. The problem is, too often we are looking down at the chasm and fearing how deep it is, instead of looking across to the other side and seeing how small the jump is. You see, the depth of the chasm makes no difference if the distance to the other side is reachable. If we can make it to the other side it makes no difference if the chasm is 1 inch deep or 1 mile deep. And when we trust God, is any distance too far to jump?

True Friends
3 years ago.

8 days ago I posted that it had been one month since we left to drive to Texas for Bible Bee nationals. Well, one month ago today we left Texas to return to Michigan after experiencing the best week of my life at nationals. As I think back on those days and the times we all shared there, I am so blessed to have such great friends. What would our lives be like without friends? It would be such a terrible thing I dare not imagine it. "A true friend is not bound by time or distance, because true friends have a love that lasts longer than a lifetime." I love that. Take some time to day to think of your friends and how special they are to you. What is it you appreciate most about them?

You Have Been Called To Liberty
3 years ago.

Liberty is costly to win, costly to use, and costly when you lose it. But it is a powerful force we can use either for good or for evil. One of the many powerful passages I memorized for Bible Bee nationals this year was Galatians 5:13-26. Paul begins that passage by telling us that we have been called to liberty. Not liberty to practice lawlessness, but rather liberty from the works of the flesh. That is what we are to strive for with God's help. With this liberty, what will we do with it? Use it for good by serving one another through love and displaying the fruit of the Spirit, or to use it for evil by biting and devouring one another, and manifesting the works of the flesh? "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Galatians 5:24-25) If I am living my daily life with this in mind, and disciplining my body into submission to His will, how can I go wrong? I myself am far from perfect in this area, but each day we live with that as our mindset, we are taking one step closer to Him, whether that step is a giant leap, or a tiny crawl.

We Overcome
3 years ago.

What a promise. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57). Isn't it reassuring that no matter what we go through on this earth, by the blood of the Lamb the final enemy will be defeated (Revelation 12:11)? By accepting God's gift of salvation we overcome the enemy, and become sons of God (John 1:12) and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). And nothing can snatch us from Him (John 10:29).

3 years ago.

One month ago today we left the house at 7 in the morning to drive to Texas for the National Bible Bee competition. As I look back today on the memories made those days at nationals, what can I say? From reconnecting with friends made over the years to seeing friends we haven't seen in person for 4 years; the amazing worship service, the atmosphere of being immersed in the word of God and giving Him glory, there truly is nothing else like it. Memories were made that will never be forgotten.

Look back on your life and think of memories you have made. Isn't this the reason God gave us memories? So we can remember the good times we have, and be thankful for them? So we can have something to hold on to when we go through life's ups and downs, and, ultimately, to help us glorify God through it all? Because the same God that gave us those times we treasure is the same God that will bring us through the rough times too, and we can rest assured in His promises.

With God All Things Are Possible
3 years ago.

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." - Mark 10:25. Shocked, His disciples asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus says, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." We serve a God who turns impossibilities into possibilities. Not only in this situation of eternal salvation does God promise this; over and over in our walk as Christians we all have seen ways in which God has turned things that have to us looked impossible, and made them happen. Let us take a moment today and reflect on all the things He has brought to pass in our lives that we thought would never happen. And then let us praise Him for them.

Is Our Light Shining?
3 years ago.

First of all let me apologize for the long gap between posts! It's been a long season with Bible Bee and the competition continues with nationals studying.

This year at work I was talking to a Christian friend who doesn't go to church. We were talking about the Bible and our spiritual walk and I brought up the subject of church. A girl nearby spoke up, "You don't have to go to church to be a Christian." Now I know this perfectly well, and was not saying such to him, but it really got me thinking. What is Christianity? Is it just some label we wear when we hang around Christian friends? Is it just believe in Jesus and be saved, and then live like nothing happened?

Maybe you were saved at an early age like I was. Or maybe to you Christianity is something you trashed long ago. Or maybe Christianity is a whole new concept to you. Maybe you've read about people who gave their life to Christ and had a 180 where everything changed for them and they started talking about Jesus to everyone. If you were being raised up in a Christian home when you became a Christian, maybe you didn't experience a miraculous 180 when you were saved. Maybe you've wondered, why is there nothing different with me? Is Christianity really supposed to make a difference in my life?

The answer to that last question is yes. And to answer the previous question, instead of asking "why is there nothing different with me?", let's ask ourselves this question: Why am I not making a difference in me?

When we became Christians, what separates us from everyone else is that God has given us of His Spirit (John 14:16-17 and 1 John 4:13). When we become Christians, God gives us a Helper - the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit's role is to "guide us into all truth" (John 16:13). He is not going to force us to do what we need to do. He will guide us if we let Him, but He is not going to force us. The point of all this is, we are not left alone. God has given us His Spirit to help us do what we as Christians are called to do. And we are called to be light.

In John 1:9 Jesus is called "that true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world." Jesus is the Light. Let's take a look at John 8:12:

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Because we are followers of the light of the world, we have the light in us! If someone gives you something, he/she wants you to do something with what they gave you. So what is it Jesus wants us to do with His light?

In John 9:5 Jesus said:

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

So who is the light in this world when He is in heaven? Matthew 5:14 says:

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Wow! We are the light of the world! Is this starting to come together now? Jesus is the Light, we believe in Him and receive the light. Jesus shines His Light while He is in the world, and now we shine His light into the world!

The sun and moon are perfect examples of this. The sun, representing Jesus, is the source of the light. Daytime, representing Jesus' time on earth, is when He shines the fullness of His light upon it. Nighttime, when He has returned to heaven, is when His light reflects off the moon, representing believers, back onto the earth!

How do we reflect His light? By how we act. Look again at Matthew 5:14 and the two verses after it:

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

You are the light. You are the city. You are the lamp. So shine. How? Good works. Remember my study on James 2? Good works do not earn your salvation. Good works show your salvation to everyone around you. Ephesians 2:10 says that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (emphasis mine).

"A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." Why? Because it is set on a hill. It is elevated so everyone around can see. It is different from all the other towns built in the valley. So should our light be. James said, "Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works." He's basically saying you can't show the world how you're different except by doing good works. They don't save you, but they display your salvation.

"Love one another." John 4:9-16 says,

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

If we let the world get in the way of us and the Son, and let the world eclipse our abiding in God, our light is not "giving light to all who are in the house" (Matthew 5:15).

At some times, shining our light may be easy, but it's the times when it's hard that it really counts. Like when your little sister starts bossing you around. How are you going to respond? Tell her to shut up and shove her away, or kindly ask her to stop?

Or when your mom or dad correct you when you do something wrong. Are you going to admit your mistake or get upset and stomp off?

How about when your family plans a big vacation but then has to cancel it due to work or finances. What is your behavior going to be like? Are you going to be in a bad temper all week, or cheerfully find another activity to do?

Or when a friend or a loved one dies. How will you respond? Will you slam your fist and curse God, or reach out to his/her family in comfort?

These are all scenarios where we can choose either to let our light shine, or to hide it under a basket. These are only a few compared to the many opportunities we have each day. Reread through Matthew 5:16:

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

"And glorify your Father in heaven." That's the ultimate goal - to bring glory to God for what He has done in your life! Who knows? Maybe sometime someone will notice your light shining and ask you, "What makes you so different from everybody else?" And then you share the gospel with them.

Paul's Last Words #10: Conclusion
3 years ago.

Over two months later and I am now coming to the end of my study on 2 Timothy 4. I hope you have enjoyed studying along with me (that is, if you have been, like you were encouraged to do).

We are now at the last four verses:

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick. Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. - 2 Timothy 4:19-22

Greetings are given by Paul to various Christian friends and acquaintances. Most of them are mentioned only a couple of times in the Bible, so we don't know much about them. The focus of this final post is going to be on the last verse, 2 Timothy 4:22:

The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

But first let's review what we have studied in 2 Timothy 4:

In the first post, I Charge You, we talked about the last charge Paul gave Timothy: Preach the word. We learned that in and out of season means when you see opportunities for sharing your faith and when you don't. We looked into the effective method Paul also gave Timothy in accomplishing this charge.

In the next post, Your Ministry, we noted the decline in solid Biblical teaching from the pulpit and Paul exhorts us to stick with the Bible. We looked at how we respond when we are hit with a truth we don't like. And we also studied how each one of us is uniquely placed where we are to fulfill the ministry that God has given each one of us.

In the third post, As A Drink Offering, we read an article on drink offerings and how there is more to a drink offering than we think.

After that in Fighting The Fight we looked into the good fight we as Christians are called to wage throughout Scripture, how we can set about to do it, and the battle cry.

In Running The Race we read about how each one of us has a race marked out before us, and the key that Paul used to finish the race well.

In studying Keeping The Faith we studied the essentialness of guarding our faith and not compromising.

When we studied Loving His Appearing we saw the task we are to do while we await our Lord's return.

After that in Who Are We Like? we looked at the background of the various people Paul mentions in his final writings and how each of them served Christ in their lives.

Finally, in Our Faithful Lord we looked at the conflict between Paul and Alexander, and how God is always with us, even when everyone else deserts us.

I don't know about you, but I sure gained a lot from my study of 2 Timothy 4. Throughout Paul's final words we see a dying man giving his last message to the rest of us. We see him refresh in our memory the final charges laid upon us by Jesus, reminders of God's faithfulness and more. If you have not been following along these past several weeks, I highly encourage you to read them, and do some studying of your own.

Notice how Paul ends the book with an "Amen." Do you not think these powerful words written by a man inspired by God deserve a hearty Amen?

Paul's Last Words #9: Our Faithful Lord
3 years ago.
Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! - 2 Timothy 4:14-18

Did you know that there are two Daniels in lions dens? But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. One thing at a time.

The verses for this post tell of a dispute between two opposing sides: Paul's and Alexander's.

The first word in these verses is Alexander. Or should I say, the first name. I could have included Alexander in with the 7 people discussed in my previous post, Paul's Last Words #8: Who Are We Like?, but I did not do it for a reason, and that reason is this blog post.

Alexander was a coppersmith. We don't know much else about him, nor whether he personally stood up and resisted Paul's words or was the leader of a faction against Paul. All we know is that he "resisted Paul's words."

Notice in verse 15 where it says that Alexander "resisted our words" (that is, those of Paul and whoever was with him), and in verse 17 where it states that the Lord strengthened Paul so that the message might be preached fully. In other words, God gave Paul the words to say to overcome Alexander's resistance. From this we can gather that it was probably a verbal resistance of Paul's preaching and not a physical altercation. Alexander was probably jeering and mocking Paul; stirring up a riot?

What happened then? At Paul's first defense, everyone who was with him forsook him (verse 16). Actually, not everyone forsook him. The most important person stood with him, strengthened him, and gave him the words to say. Anyone want to take a guess who that person was? Verse 18a: "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me."

Yes! Our faithful Lord will "never leave us nor forsake us" (Hebrews 13:5). This promise held true for the Israelites in Deuteronomy 31:6-8 and it still holds true for Christians today.

Paul goes on at the end of verse 18: "Also I was delivered our of the mouth of the lion" (there's my part about there being two 'Daniels in lions dens'). Not only that, but we can trust the Lord do deliver us from 'every evil work'!

Does this mean that we will escape everything bad? By no means! Look at verse 18 again:

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

The key is here: "to preserve me for His heavenly kingdom." That means that no matter how much evil the devil throw at us, nothing shall be able to snatch us out of His hands (John 10:29). Like Paul says, to Him be glory forever and ever Amen!

Do we trust Him? Even when we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). When things are going tough, when we are assailed by the devil's fiery darts, do we have faith in Him to persevere?

Remember the last words of Jesus recorded in the gospel of Matthew: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew concludes his book with a well deserved Amen to those words.

I am nearing the end of my study on 2 Timothy 4; next post will be the last one, covering 2 Timothy 4:19-22. I hope you have been as blessed through the study of Paul's last words as I have been.

God bless.

Paul's Last Words #8: Who Are We Like?
3 years ago.
Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica--Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come--and the books, especially the parchments. - 2 Timothy 4:9-13

There are 8 people mentioned in these 5 verses. At first I had no idea what to write for these verses, but I was determined not to gloss over any part of this chapter.

So I decided to do a little research in my Bible study program, Logos (see, and see what information I could discover about these 8 people.

In verse 9 Paul implores Timothy to join him quickly. We know quite a bit about Timothy; a quick search on will list all the times he is mentioned in the Bible.

Numerous times the Bible stresses the importance of spiritual mentorship. Paul was Timothy's mentor (Acts 16:1-5, 1 Corinthians 4:17). He became Paul's companion and friend (1 Thessalonians 3:2), and took over Paul's ministry after Paul died (2 Timothy 4).

Timothy was a young man who stood up for God no matter what happened. He saw Paul and many other apostles give their lives for Christ. Yet he did not lose his faith. While Demas forsook Paul, Timothy stayed firm (2 Timothy 4:9-10). Timothy knew what it meant to "let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).

Demas is the next person mentioned in this passage. The Bible narrates a sad story about him. In chronological order, the first time the Bible talks about Demas is in Philemon 1:24, where he is called a fellow laborer with Paul. He is then mentioned in Colossians 4:14, but this time no epithet is attached like there is to Luke. Finally we see him referenced in 2 Timothy 4:10. Paul says that Demas has forsaken because of his love for the world.

Is this not a common occurrence today? People hear and believe the Gospel, but then the world lures them away. Oh that such would have a strong spiritual mentor like Paul to help them remain firm!

Next person found is Crescens. We don't know much about him, as the Bible only mentions him once. From historical documents we do know that he was a friend and companion of Paul.

2 Timothy 4:10 says that Crescens went to Galatia, but this does not necessarily mean he was another deserter of the faith. Titus was also mentioned there as having gone to a city, yet there is nothing we know that can align Titus with the position of a deserter. Who knows? Crescens got no biography in the Bible about his ministry; maybe he was a servant of God who served in the background and was averse to recognition.

This brings us to Titus. Like Timothy, we know quite a bit about Titus, from the Bible and from historical documents. He was a pastor, and was one of two pastors whose letters from Paul are part of the Bible (the other is Timothy). He was not a Jew (Galatians 2:3), was a partner and fellow worker with Paul (2 Corinthians 8:23) and accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-10). His apostolic role looks to be a similar one to Paul's, and he appears not to journey as much as Paul did. He was also probably nearer Paul's age and not a comparative youth like Timothy was. 2 Corinthians 8:6 and 12:17-18 show that he probably was the deliverer of the Corinthian epistles, and was a trusted apostle (2 Corinthians 12:17-18).

From all of this and more, (which by the way, you should be doing your own study as well and not just taking my word for it), we can see that Titus was a trustworthy minister of the gospel. Trust is something precious, and a worthy jewel is a person you can trust.

Looking now at verse 11, the first person we come across is Luke. Luke is only mentioned twice in the Bible, so we don't know all that much about him, except what the two verses tell us. Colossians 4:14 tell us that he was a physician and beloved by Paul. 2 Timothy 4:11 says that Luke was with Paul, so this could logically be assumed because when Paul wrote 2 Timothy 4, he was near the end of his life, and probably needed medical attention, which Luke could give.

Mark, whose real name was John (Acts 12:12;25, 15:37), accompanied many of the apostles on their missionary journeys (Acts 12:25, 15:37;39). He was a helpful apostle and Philemon 1:24 calls him a fellow laborer.

Tychicus was an Asian Christian, according to historical documents. He appears to have been an active messenger for the apostles, and was the messenger that delivered the epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21), and the epistle to the Colossians (Colossians 4:7-8). He may have delivered other letters too.

Delivering letters back then wasn't just putting a letter in the mailbox or driving to a post office. He had to travel all the way from his starting point to his destination. If caught with this letter, he probably would have been put to death. Yet Tychicus was determined to bring the message no matter the risk.

Like Crescens, Carpus is a little-known Christian who does not appear in any historical documents and is mentioned only once in Scripture. All we know about him is that he was a Christian in Troas with whom Paul left his cloak and parchments (2 Timothy 4:13). Because Paul left his cloak and parchments with Carpus, which would logically mean at his house, Paul and those with him probably stayed at Carpus' house. Wouldn't it be awesome to have Paul or another apostle stop in at our house? But we have what is even greater: The Lord Jesus Christ is with us all the time, wherever we go. How better can that get?

So now it's show time. Who are we like? Are we like Timothy, learning from our spiritual mentors, preparing ourselves to be the leaders of the next generation? Are we willing to serve in the background without recognition like Crescens may have done? Are we trustworthy like Titus--if we were called by God to do something, could we be trusted to do it? Do others call us, like Luke was, because of our relationships with those around us? Do we work alongside those serving God like John Mark did? Are we like Tychicus, determined to deliver the message no matter what? Carpus opened up his house to Paul and his companions. Do we assist those in ministry in whatever ways we can? Or instead, do we let the charms of the world distract us and draw us away from God?

I said earlier in this post that you should be studying along with me, and not simply taking my word for it. In preparation for the next post, study 2 Timothy 4:14-18 and compare your study with my next post. See ya then.

Paul's Last Words #7: Loving His Appearing
3 years ago.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. - 2 Timothy 4:8

When I have studied this verse before, the main thing in the verse appeared to be the crown of righteousness. It seems to take precedence over the latter part of the verse. While no doubt the mentioned crown is an important topic, there is something else Paul appends to the verse: "and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." Why would Paul add this if he was not trying to convey a message? Could he not have left off at "on that Day"? He could have, but he didn't. He did it for a reason too.

First of all, what appearing is he referencing? Is he referencing Jesus' first coming, or His future coming? The Greek word for appearing used in this verse is epiphaneia. Let's do some cross-referencing and look at what other Bible verses contain the word epiphaneia and see what light they shed on this.

1 Timothy 6:14 says:

that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing,

Notice "until". This is referring to Christ's future return. 2 Timothy 1:10 says:

but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

This one was past tense. Look at 2 Timothy 4:1:

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:

"who will judge" - future tense. Now let's look at the last verse that uses epiphaneia, Titus 2:13:

looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Future tense. Now let us look again at our verse:

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

This verse uses past tense. Yet this is an instance where the editors of the New King James Version differed from the accuracy of the old King James Version. In the King Jame Version, 2 Timothy 4:8 reads:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.

The original Greek is future tense, as it is with most other occurrences of epiphaneia.

So what does it look like to love His appearing? If we are really passionate about something, how do we show our enthusiasm? We want to tell everybody about it and make them just as excited about it as we are.

So should it be regarding the coming return of Jesus.

What does the Bible say about this? Let's review the context of some of the verses discussed earlier here:

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. - 1 Timothy 6:11-16

Whoa, did we just run across "fighting the good fight" again (see my post Paul's Last Words #4: Fighting The Fight)? Yes, we did. Fighting the good fight is an unignorable part of Christianity. While eagerly awaiting his return we are to...

  • Flee evil
  • Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness
  • Fight the good fight of faith
  • Claim eternal life
  • Openly show our faith before others
  • We are urged to do this unto His return

2 Timothy 4:1-2:

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
  • We will be judged when Christ returns
  • We are to unhesitatingly preach the word

Titus 2:11-15:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
  • Show others the grace of God that is for all men
  • Deny ourselves ungodliness and worldly lusts
  • Live soberly, righteously and godly
  • Look forward to the blessedly glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ
  • Because He redeemed and purified us unto Himself
  • Unabashedly tell everyone about these things

See a common theme throughout these verses? In every verse we are given instruction regarding our conduct, a call to share the Gospel, and an exhortation to look forward to His return.

Remember what I wrote about how we exhibit out enthusiasm for something we are passionate about? If there was something we could do to get more people into it as we are, would we not do it? So should it be regarding Jesus' return.

Are we loving and eagerly awaiting His return? Do we want Him to return in glory for His glory alone? If not, why? Do we love this world and all that is in it more than God? It should be our constant focus to love His appearing by the way we live and act.

Paul's Last Words #6: Keeping The Faith
3 years ago.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy 4:7

Paul has kept the most vital thing for last: "I have kept the faith." He fought the good fight, he finished the race, but the most important thing is that he kept the faith. Despite the challenges, the difficulties, the persecutions, and everything else, Paul stood firm in his faith, and did not waver.

Think of the last time you wrote a lengthy letter or email to someone you don't have frequent contact with. What were the last few things you wrote at the end of that letter? Highly likely they were some important things you wanted to tell that person, and you put it at the end of your letter so that it would stand out to the recipient after he or she read your letter.

In light of that, let us look at the last thing Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:20-21:

O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge--by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

The last thing that Paul told Timothy was to guard his faith.

In the world today there are innumerable things that Satan will throw at us to make us doubt God and renounce Christ. Evolution and atheism are just two of many. The enemy is throwing rocks of faithlessness at us, and we must fight the good fight (see my post Fighting The Fight).

The Hebrew word for keep, shamar, and the Greek word for keep, toreo, both refer to a military guarding of a trust. When Satan trues to create breaches in our faith with his cannon of disbelief, we must fortify the walls of our faith and be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). And if we do not spend time studying God's Word, how will we be able to give any defense? ESSENTIAL. Remember that from my post, Do We Know Him? There is nothing more essential to a Christian's walk than studying God's Word. It will equip us to fight the good fight, it will be our endurance to finish the race strong, and it will be our strength to keep the faith.

You see, keeping the faith is part of the good fight. How else can we guard ourselves from the fiery darts of the wicked one except by using the shield of faith? And if we don't keep watch over our faith, and it gets snatched away, what protection have we against those darts?

There is proof in the Bible that Paul and other apostles truly kept the faith, and wasn't lying when he said that he kept--guarded and defended--the faith. Over and over the book of Acts records instances where the apostles were called upon to give a defense for the faith. Acts 4:1-22, Acts 5:22-32, Acts 7, Acts 11:1-18, Acts 17:16-34, Acts 21:26-23:7, Acts 24, Acts 25 and Acts 26 are all passages where Stephen, Peter and Paul defended the faith. They didn't make things up of mumble excuses. They didn't waver in their faith or compromise, no matter what the cost. Stephen, Peter, Paul and all the other apostles were mortal men like you and I. Without the help of the Lord God Almighty no man could brave death in defense of the faith. Do we have such faith? Is our faith in God so secure that we can face martyrdom if need be? Time are getting worse, and the chances are increasing where we may eventually be called upon to give our lives up for Christ.

Most of us here have no such fear of police breaking up our church and arresting us all, but we may face things such as being ridiculed or shunned. Do we love Christ enough to keep the faith? Will we be able to say when we die, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith"?

Paul's Last Words #5: Running The Race
3 years ago.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

"I have finished the race"--our life as a race is a theme used several times by Paul. In Acts 20:24 Paul says,

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

What a resolution! Let that sink in. Do we love Jesus enough to run whatever race He calls us to, even if it results in our death? Paul valued Jesus more than his own life!

Think of a resolution you have made. Have you kept that resolution faithfully? Maybe it lasted a week, or month, but then it seemed to fade away? We know that when we made that resolution, we were determined to keep it, but later on obstacles presented themselves, and in a way that worthy resolution got shoved into a dark and dusty corner in the attic of our minds.

But Paul did not let his resolution slip away. He faithfully stuck to his resolve throughout his whole ministry. The result? He was able to say on his deathbed, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (emphasis mine). And what is his reward? Verse 8 has the answer:

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

As Christians, God has marked out a race course for us. Every course has obstacles that will try to lead us astray. But be encouraged, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that no temptation will overtake us except such that our faithful God will provide a way of escape for (paraphrased). Will we run the race He has marked out for us? Will we, like Paul, resolve to finish the race with joy, or better yet, be able to truthfully quote 2 Timothy 4:7 at the finish line?

We cannot run the race alone. No one can. But the key that Paul knew, and focused his whole life upon, is found in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Hebrews 12:1-3. In conclusion I have included both passages below:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnaresus, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. - Hebrews 12:1-3
Paul's Last Words #4: Fighting The Fight
3 years ago.

What did you come up with in your study of 2 Timothy 7? Did you learn more than you thought you would? I sure did. So much that I will be writing 3 posts to cover this verse. I am once again reminded of the 12th verse of Hebrews 4:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

And now for my post:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

This verse is probably my favorite verse in 2 Timothy. To be able to truthfully say on our deathbed that we have fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith--is that not a goal worth striving for?

1 Timothy 6:12 also references the good fight of faith, and 1 Timothy 1:18 calls it the good warfare. What is the good fight? Who are we waging it against? The answer is found in Ephesians 6:12:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

What a foe! Earthly weapons are of no avail against such enemies. How then can we fight the good fight at all?

Never fear! With God on our side, what can stand against us (Romans 8:31)?

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. - 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

With the weapons and the armor of God, can we not conquer through Him? What are these weapons? Let me quote a familiar passage to you, Ephesians 6:10-18:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

Notive the action words in the passage. The armor of God is useless if we do not use it. So, back to the question: how do we fight the good fight? To fight the good fight means to put on the belt of truth, so we are protected from the devil's deceit. It means to wear the breastplate of righteousness to ward off unrighteous thoughts and actions. It means to wear the footwear of peace, so we can walk over the sharp rocks of insult. It means to take up the shield of faith, so that we can quench Satan's fiery darts of faithlessness, doubt, and disbelief. We put on the helmet of salvation to defeat the blows of the battleaxe of damnation. We memorize God's Word and hide it in our hearts as we wield the double edged sword of the Spirit. And last, but oh, not least, is the unconquerable weapon of prayer, that we may have strength to boldly proclaim the Gospel. That is how we fight the good fight of faith. That is how we wage the good warfare.

When an army goes into battle, they often have a battle cry that inspires them with the strength to fight. As Christians going into battle, what is our battle cry? Watch this song, War Cry, by one of my favorite bands, LoveCollide. Listen to the lyrics and the battle cry in the song:

Paul's Last Words #3: As A Drink Offering
3 years ago.

Did you study 2 Timothy 4:6? What did you come up with?

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. - 2 Timothy 4:6

In my research into drink offerings, I came across this article on that I thought I would share here:

Paul was in Rome as a prisoner in chains. The ungodly and unrighteous ruler Nero sentenced Paul to death. He had already been tried once and was forsaken by everyone he depended on, but the Lord stood by him, strengthened him and delivered him out of the mouth of a lion (2 Timothy 4:16 & 17). At that terrible time in history, Jews and Christians were fed to lions as a form of 'sport' but Paul had been somehow delivered from that dreadful death. When Paul used the word 'release' it suggests he was longing for his departure from this world, and was anticipating his death. If we analyse the ministries that have changed the world and blessed people, you will find that with every one of them, their lives have been poured out. Not necessarily as a martyr, but in selfless service to God to the point where, like a drink offering, they have been completely poured out. Paul was getting on in years; was somewhat infirm and it was very cold in the prison. He had to send an urgent message to Timothy to bring a cloak with him before winter (2 Timothy 4:13 & 21). Paul had suffered terribly in His quest to spread the Gospel, yet there is not one single hint of defeat, self-pity or regret in any of his epistles. In his letter to Timothy, Paul comes to his three triumphant statements; "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith."

If we go back and study the Levitical priesthood, we see that the primary offerings were animals, birds, grains such as wheat or baked flour, wine and olive oil. God ordained with each sacrificial offering, there should also be a drink offering. It had to be wine, poured out together with the offering. That is what Paul was referring to. He was speaking as his life-blood was about to be poured out to seal the offering he was bringing to God; the fruits of his ministry. We can suggest that a life poured out in God's service like Paul's was, is an acceptable offering in the sight of God.

There is more to a drink offering than we think. The first place in the Bible where a drink offering was mentioned is in Genesis 35:14. Jacob set up a pillar of stone in the place where he had talked with God. He first poured a drink offering of wine and then he poured oil over it. If we look closely at the symbolism, we can see Jacob was, as it were, prophesying about the sacrifice of Jesus by his actions. We know that Jacob was the father of twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:28). The Lord changed Jacob's name to Israel (Genesis 32:28; 35:10). One of Jacob's sons was Judah; where we get the word Jew, and we know that Jesus was a Jewish Man from the tribe of Judah (Matthew 1:2; Luke 3:33 & 34; Hebrews 7:14). Jesus stated emphatically, "Salvation comes from the Jews" (John 4:22). Jacob poured the offering on a stone that he had set up. Jacob didn't just see a stone and use it; he set it up to make an altar. It was a pillar; a cornerstone. The Bible says God was going to lay a Cornerstone of salvation; a sure foundation (Isaiah 28:16). The scriptures tell us Jesus is that Cornerstone, set up by God (Luke 20:17; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6 & 7). The drink offering of wine or grape juice symbolises Jesus' blood, poured out for us (Matthew 26:27 to 29; Mark 14:23 to 25; Luke 22:20; John 6:53 to 56). After the blood came the oil, which symbolises the third Person of the Godhead; the Holy Spirit, Who has been poured into Christians for us to 'drink' (1 Corinthians 12:13). We know of course, we receive the Holy Spirit after we have been washed in the blood of Jesus; so Jacob poured the offerings in the correct order.

Moses' brother Aaron also prophesied about Jesus' blood sacrifice by his actions, like Jacob had. The Lord ordered Aaron to pour a quarter of a hin of wine and a quarter of a hin of oil over the sacrificial lamb (Exodus 29:38 to 41). The lamb as we know, is symbolic of the Lamb of God; Jesus. The wine is symbolic of Jesus' blood that was shed for us and the oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. No one knows exactly how much a hin was but it has been estimated to be between 5 and 7 litres. Here is the point: The amount of blood an adult man has in his body is approximately 5 to 7 litres depending on height, weight and stature of the individual. When Jesus died, He poured out His hin of blood for us. Every one of Apostle Paul's three last statements, show us that his job was finished. We all need to finish our own race, we all need to keep the faith and we all need to fight the good fight. One major aspect of the Christian life is that it is a conflict. We can get to heaven without theology; but we can't get there without courage. Christianity is more of a test of our character than the intellect. How many of us really pour ourselves out like a drink offering, as Jesus and the Apostles did?

Click here to view the original article

What a powerful statement - "How many of us really pour ourselves out like a drink offering, as Jesus and the Apostles did?" What is our answer? Think about it these next few days.

For those of you studying along with me, my next post will be on 2 Timothy 4:7. If you're not, do so! It will truly be rewarding.

Paul's Last Words #2: Your Ministry
3 years ago.

Did you do your studying on 2 Timothy 4:3-5 like you were challenged to do in the first post of this series?

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In context of the surrounding verses, what does this mean? In the previous verse we read that we are to preach the Word, and one of the ways mentioned is through teaching. Doctrine is just another word for teaching. Sound means whole, healthy, not hollow. Is not the sound doctrine in verse 3 referring to the preaching of the Word in verse 2? If that is not sound doctrine, then what is?

Many churches nowadays have compromised their sound Christian doctrine, and have replaced godly pastors with teachers who preach what the congregations want to hear. That's why so few pastors preach on conscience-pricking subjects such as sin and purity.

Let's switch the tense in verses 3 and 4. When we hear something true that pricks our conscience and we want to brush it off, how do we respond? This could be a Scripture passage that we read in our daily devotions, or something a wise adult mentor points out to us. We have two choices: are we going to turn our ears away from the truth and move on, or are we going to confront the issue that they noticed, and work on fixing it?

What should our response be in these matters? Paul says to be watchful in all things. What is we are criticized for not compromising on our beliefs? Paul says to endure afflictions.

Paul told Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. For us, this does not necessarily mean attending a Bible college and becoming a pastor, nor does it necessarily mean learning a new language and flying to another country as a missionary. Anyone can be an evangelist anywhere by fulfilling their ministry.

When Paul says to fulfill your ministry, what is he talking about? We aren't all pastors. True, we are not all pastors, but we are all ministers. A minister is someone who ministers, and "to serve" is another word for "to minister". Our ministry is wherever we are situated. How do we fulfill our ministry? By living as Christ lived, by walking as He walked (see my post Do We Know Him?), by showing the love of Christ to everyone you come in contact with. It means to preach the Word by our words and actions.

My next post will be on verse 6 of 2 Timothy 4. If you are not studying along with me, I encourage you to do so. Bible study is not simply reading what someone else has studied, it is studying the Bible for yourself and comparing insights that you have gained with those that others have gained.

God bless.

Paul's Last Words #1: I Charge You
3 years ago.

2 Timothy was the last book that Paul wrote. 2 Timothy 4 was the last chapter of the last book that Paul wrote.

I am beginning a series on 2 Timothy 4, which should go on for a while. Study along with me! This first post is on verses 1 and 2, and the next one will be on verses 3 through 5.

The first verse in this chapter begins with "I charge you". This is a dying man's last injunction. He says "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:". This is serious stuff. Paul isn't just asking Timothy "by the way, could you do this for me?", rather he is passing the baton of his leadership over to Timothy. Paul's work is complete, and now it is Timothy's turn.

What is the first instruction given to Timothy in his charge? Preach the word! Of all that we as Christians are commissioned to do, preaching the Word should be our highest priority (see Matthew 28:18-20). And Paul doesn't just say to preach the word whenever; he says be ready in season and out of season! Now what does "in season" and "out of season" mean? According to the original Greek, which you can verify for yourself at this link, it means to be ready to preach the word when you have an opportunity to do so, and also when you don't see any opportunities to do so. What if we feel the Holy Spirit leading us to witness to someone, but we see no favorable opportunity to do so? Just because we do not see any opportunity does not mean that God is not going to open a door and create an one. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and what appears to us an inopportune time to share the Gospel may be an opportunity God will create for us if we follow His call.

In what was are we to preach the Word? Convincingly, rebukingly, with exhortation, longsuffering, and teaching. Now let's slow down a bit and understand each of these words.

To preach the Word convincingly means to present the Gospel using the Gospel. There is nothing more convincing about the Gospel than the Gospel itself. What I mean is, don't try to share the gospel by using the man made gospel of "God has a wonderful plan for your life" or "Believe in Jesus and He will make you happy all the time". That is not the true Gospel. Few people are going to buy into it. Or maybe they will, but when they realize these things promised them by man, not God, when they become Christians, do not happen, they throw off Christianity, and few will ever return.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Christianity will guarantee happiness. Jeremiah 29:11-12 does say "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you", but read the following verse 13: "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." For more information on the "worldly gospel" and how to present the true Gospel, listen to Hell's Best Kept Secret by Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort of

How do we we rebuke when sharing the Gospel? We don't rebuke; the Holy Spirit is the one who rebukes and brings about repentance.

If in order to define the word "exhort" I had to give a synonym of it, it would have to be plead and encourage. Now when I say plead, I don't mean that we are supposed to get down on our knees and pester them to be saved, rather it means to just show them you care about them. Don't preach the word in a robotic or businesslike tone. Urge them, but don't pester.

Longsuffering = patience. If they don't understand, slow down and explain.

Teaching. If they have questions, answer them if you can. If you don't know, don't fake up an answer. Be truthful, tell them you don't know, get their contact information, go home, study and find the answer, and get back to them.

Paul was wrapping up his life and was giving his ministry over to Timothy. Is there a place of leadership or service you feel called to do? Are you in a unique situation where you can preach the word in season and out of season? Remember, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Matthew 9:37-38).

Unicorns in the Bible
3 years ago.

I have been really busy right now with my job, so I haven't had much time for posting anything major this week. At church today our Sunday School teacher played a video by Wretched TV (Todd Friel) on "Unicorns in the Bible". I thought it very enlightening and thought I would share it with you.

As a side note, there is no language or anything bad in the video, just in case you were wondering. This YouTube video talks about what Wretched TV is.

Have fun watching:

Note: I believe the KJV is the only version to translate it as unicorn. Other versions, such as NKJV, incorrectly translate it as wild ox.

Riches: Good or Bad?
3 years ago.

There are so many conflicting views on the Bible's instructions regarding wealth. Some say that wealth is acceptable, while others say that money is the root of all evil, and therefore is bad. What does the Bible actually say concerning wealth?

Matthew 6:19-21 says

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Ok, now let's make note of what we see in the passage:

  • We are not to hoard up earthly treasure
  • Earthly riches can be destroyed and stolen
  • We are to lay up treasure in heaven
  • Treasures in heaven cannot be destroyed or stolen
  • What we treasure is where our heart is

Summary: Miserly hoarding earthly wealth is of no eternal value because it can be destroyed. Building up treasure in heaven has eternal value because it cannot be destroyed.

Why hoard up earthly riches for our own selfish use? We can't take it with us to heaven. Only riches we build up in heaven will last. 1 Timothy 6:10 says

For the love of money is a root of all [kinds of] evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Once again, let us take notes:

  • The love of money is the root of all evil
  • Greed has caused some to stray from the faith.
  • Desire for wealth has caused some people to forsake Christ
  • The evil resulting from their avarice pierces them with many sorrows

To love money that much truly is the root of all evil. A simple search on the internet will reveal hundreds of instances where desire for rices has caused people to commit acts of crime. But notice how the verse says that the love of money is the root of all evil, not that money itself is the root of evil.

An example of what happens when someone hoards up treasures on earth can be found in Mark 10:17-27, which reads,

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and your mother.'" And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth." Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

Quite a lengthy passage to digest, right? This time, why don't you write the notes yourself on a piece of paper before you read on?

Have you written out your notes on Mark 10:17-27? Compare them with the ones I have written down:

  • A rich young man asks Jesus what he must do to be saved
  • Jesus quotes him several of the 10 Commandments
  • The rich young man says he has kept them since his youth
  • Jesus tells him to sell everything and give it to the poor
  • The rich young man went away sorrowful
  • Jesus says it is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God
  • Jesus' disciples are astonished, so He repeated Himself
  • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God
  • Astonished, His disciples asked Him who then can be saved
  • Jesus says that with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible

Now that we have finished our note-taking, let us ask ourselves a question: Why did Jesus tell the rich young man to sell everything, since salvation is only by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)?
Jesus knew the heart of the young man. He knew that he loved his money. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." The young man loved his money more than he loved God. He did not love God with all his heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Indeed it is harder for a person trusting in wealth to enter heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. But with God all things are possible. By believing in Jesus for salvation, and not in wealth, can we enter into His kingdom.

Instead of hoarding up wealth for our own selfish desires, 1 Timothy 6:17-18 gives us a worthwhile usage for our extra cash:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.

Thus concludes my study on Riches: Good or Bad?. My belief is that wealth is not evil. Being rich is acceptable because it makes us able to do more good. But don't just take my word for it; be like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11 and study it for yourself. This post only "scratches the surface" on the subject, so there's plenty more you can study. Have fun studying, and God bless.

Do We Know Him?
3 years ago.

If someone asked you "Do you know Christ?", what would be your answer? If you are a Christian, your answer is probably "yes". But can we really say yes? When we are saved, we are entering into a relationship with God. It is up to us, however, how deep that relationship grows.

Think of your favorite sports star or a political leader you admire. You are a fan of that person, maybe you even have his or her autograph, but you are not best friends with that person, are you?

The above example is not a perfect one, but it will do. God is not at all like a sports star or a political leader, who only has certain select friends. Anybody and everybody can have a relationship with God that goes deeper than when you were saved.

So how can we establish that kind of relationship? 1 John 2:3-6 has the answer:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

The key to knowing Jesus, that is, establishing an intimate relationship with Him--lies in keeping His commandments. Keeping His commandments has absolutely nothing to do with salvation. The passage states that keeping His commandments causes us to know Him, to become best friends with Him, not that we may be saved. Salvation is a gift of grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), which we receive when we believe in Him (Acts 16:31).

What are His commandments? You can find them all over the New Testament. Biblical Research Reports has an index of all of the exhortations commands found in the New Testament if you need help finding some.

How do we know when we have an intimate relationship with God? Look at someone who you know has an intimate relationship with God. Now consider what is different in that person that makes you think they have one. A person who has an intimate relationship displays the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in their daily life.

A person who displays the fruits of the Spirit loves unconditionally, overflows with joy, and seeks for peace. They will be long-suffering, they will be kind and good, and they will be faithful to whatever and whomever fidelity is due. They will be gentle to all and will be self controlled when human nature demands the opposite.

Wait, who am I describing? Who alone is all of the above? Jesus. How then can anyone measure up to that standard? The answer is no one. But since we are called to imitate Christ (Ephesians 5:1), then we are called to wholeheartedly follow that standard as best as we can.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. - Matthew 6:33

Does that verse say that they will be added to us in measure like Jesus? No; rather it just says that they will be added to us. While we can never be perfect in the fruits of the Spirit, we will be more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, more long-suffering, more kind and good, and more faithful. We will be gentler and more self controlled when we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (i.e. the righteousness of following His commandments). Then Christ's love will be perfected in us, and we will be walking as He walked (1 John 2:5).

This cannot be accomplished on our own. We may try it for a bit, but we will eventually stumble, and then give up. When we seek Him with our whole heart--not just with part of our hearts--we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). We will grow closer to God, and then people will look and say, "Wow. I want what they have." And then there's an opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

Sadly, few of us take time to prioritize our relationship with God. I myself haven't been consistently doing daily devotions, except during Bible Bee season. In some respects, we act no differently than our atheist neighbor down the road, except that dress up and go to church on Sunday. And even some atheists go to "church" (See this WND article).

Daily devotions should be an essential part of our daily routines. I chould probably italicize, bolden, underline and capitalize the word essential to emphasize the importance of it: ESSENTIAL.

I don't want to have to say "no" when someone asks me if I know God. And I don't want to say "yes" unless it's true, because I don't want to be liar (1 John 2:4). I want to be able to truthfully answer "yes" to that question, and that starts with seeking God with our whole hearts. Agree?

If There Was No Tomorrow
3 years ago.
whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. - James 4:14

Life is very uncertain. One day a loved one may be with you, and the next day they've been in a car accident and have not survived. And then that last argument you had with that person comes to mind, and we realize that we never made things right with that person, and now they're gone. How often we start cherishing a person once he or she is gone. Only then do we really realize how much we love and miss that person.

Even if you, like me, are not currently facing this or anther such tragedy, James 4:14 presents a thought provoking question for us to answer: If life is a vapor, what am I doing to value every moment with that person, as if there will be no tomorrow with them? If he or she died tomorrow, would we have regrets? Or would we have peace, knowing that we made the most of every moment with that person?

What are we building? Are Are we building our relationship with that person, of are we building up walls of bitterness? Life is precious, and it is too short to be wasted.

If you or someone you know is taking someone for granted, pray for that person. I can only imagine how terrible it must be to have regrets after a loved one has passed away.

As I Have Loved You
3 years ago.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:34-35

We are commanded to live. "Love one another"--3 words, yet few of us truly obey this injunction. Why is such a straightforward command so hard to obey?

Love is a four letter word on which hundreds of books containing hundreds of pages have been written. In fact, love probably has more unique definitions than any other word. Love is vastly complex, yet at the same time is is so simple that even babes understand it. Where there seems to be love, there it may not be; and where love is not so radiant, there it may be the foundation upon which their life is built. Who can truly comprehend love but God? What undefiled example of love have we except God? Have we not but to look at the pierced hands and side of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to truly understand how to love as He has loved us? Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends (John 15:13). If God did this for us, how hard should it be to put up with the comparatively insignificant things of this life?

When we make up our minds to let the love of Christ shine through us continually, we choose to refrain from retaliating when someone behaves wrongly towards us; to respond gently when that pesky little sister of yours just won't let you alone. Was Christ not insulted, mocked, and even beaten? And yet not one retaliatory word came out of His mouth. He chose to forgive them. And what are our worst trials compared to His? And to think that He went through all this for you and me! To save us from eternity in hell! Should not our gratitude be clearly seen through our daily life by loving one another as we are commanded to do?

Six times in the Gospels are we told to take up our cross and follow Christ. Like the cross that Jesus bore, it isn't meant to be easy. People are going to criticize us for our beliefs, but we are charged to respond in the love of Christ.

I love Hawk Nelson's song, Drops In The Ocean. It is a great reminder of the love of Christ. I encourage you to watch it as I wrap up this post:

Following Christ
3 years ago.

In my previous blog post I shared my studies on John 8:1-12, and this post will be a continuation of it.

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

The Pharisees condemned the woman, yet Jesus forgave her. But He didn't just forgive her and permit her to go her way. He gave her a command: "Go and sin no more." When we are forgiven, it is not a free license to continue sinning. It is explicitly clear: we are to "sin no more."

Yet how can this be done since Ecclesiastes 7:20 says that there is no man who does not sin? Verse 12 gives the answer:

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

The only way to rid one's self of a sin is through Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, prayer, and study of the Scriptures He helps us overcome it. If we let Him. Studying His Word and refusing to change will not work.

Follow Christ. This is the solution in two words. Follow Christ. Let us not depend on ourselves, for we will not succeed on our own. It will lead to discouragement, and finally we will give up trying to 'fix ourselves.' Oh the power of Christ! Without Him we would be lost! With Him we can be everything He desires us to be! All we have to do is follow Christ.

3 years ago.

After finishing my studies in James 2 on faith and works, I have sadly neglected my blog. My apologies. Today's post is the first of a two-post study on John 8:1-12:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

We see here the story of the Pharisees bringing an adulterous woman to Jesus, to test Him to see if He would uphold their law. Jesus was in the temple teaching the people at the time, which means that she was literally brought to tribunal, before Jesus in front of the entire multitude. Her shame was made public before "all the people."

Yet why did they bring her to Jesus? We know already that the Pharisees hated Jesus, so why would they seek His counsel in the matter? To test Him. They wanted to entrap Him. If He had told them to let her go, they would have raised the outcry that He willed to violate the Mosaic law, and yet if He commanded her to be stoned, the scribes and Pharisees would most likely have excited the pity of the multitude against Jesus for His "inhuman" act.

But Jesus did not permit Himself to be entrapped. He stoops down and writes on the ground. Why does He do this? Is He considering what to say? I do not think so. I think He used this moment to pray for not only the woman, but those who wanted to condemn her. With imaginable impatience they continued to ask. This time Jesus rises and catches the hypocritical Pharisees in their own trap by convicting them of their own sin. He said "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."

The Pharisees thought they were the righteous religious leaders of God, yet their noses were too high in their self-righteousness to see their own sin. It was the case of the sinner judging the sinner, or, the pot calling the kettle black.

Pharisaical ways have not grown extinct. Too often we desire to harshly judge one who we thing has wronged us. In our indignation--rightful or not--we see Exodus 21:24, and not Matthew 5:39. Our human nature wants to take matters into our own hands, and forget that "vengeance is the Lord's" (Romans 12:19).

What did Christ Himself do when He was crucified? He forgave them. Despite their brutal treatment of Him, He still forgave. And so should we.

Matthew West wrote a beautiful song called Forgiveness. Watch it as this post comes to a close:

Faith and Works #4 (Final Part): Dead Faith
3 years ago.

I am now wrapping up my study on faith in James 2. The verses today are verses 17 and verse 26:

17: Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

To the works focused person, these two verses seem to completely solidify their theory that works are necessary for salvation. The verses clearly state that faith without works is dead. Period. Dead. Not living. Non existent.

And to an extent that is right. Faith without works is dead, but it's still there.

But how can it be dead, and yet be there at the same time?

When a person is dead, does that mean that their body disappears also? No! The body is still there. The soul--the spirit--is gone, but the body is still there. Likewise is it with our faith. Our faith is there, but it is lying down, tucked away in a dusty corner in our hearts, cold, icy and clammy like a dead body. Our faith, though it exists, is not alive. We were made not to hide our faith and let it grow cold, but to live it out--to let it live, act and breathe out the love of God upon this dark and lost world.

Faith without works is dead. Oh, how true is this! How often we let our faith grow cold and dead because of its inactivity. James is telling us that we are like dead people! We need to revive our faith--be the one who stand up and declares that he is going to do something! That he is going to show the world what it truly means to be a Christian!

Faith and Works #3: Works Are Your Witness
3 years ago.

Today's I will be writing on the final part of James 2:18, as well as the six verses following it:

Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

Right off the bat we see a challenge made in the latter part of verse 18: "Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." James is challenging us to try to show others our faith without works. How do we show others our faith? What makes Christians different? Even the demons believe that God exists!

The key is this: Works are the only way we can show that we are different. Work's don't save, but they show that we are saved.

But what about the clauses that state clearly that we are "justified by works"? The Greek word translated 'justified' is dikaio. The definition of dikaio is

To show one's self to be just or innocent, or to make one's self regarded as being in that state

Works justify our claim that we are different. Without works, we cannot show ourselves to the world to be different.

Too many Christians do not do good works because they think that because works can't save, and that they are saved by grace through faith, that they have no need to do good works. This is so not the case. Although works are not able to save, we are called by Christ to do them. We are "created in Christ Jesus to do good works" Ephesians 2:10).

A good many people do not want to become Christians because of the hypocrisy they see in them. They see Christians professing all sorts of things, yet those same Christians unhesitatingly drive by the homeless father holding his sign by the intersection who needs food for his family. What kind of Christianity is that? How is that showing the love of Christ to the world?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

He who does not love does not know God. Wow. Those words found in 1 John 4:7-8 should drive home.

As I wrap up this post, I want you to read over Matthew 25:40 once more.

Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.
Faith and Works #2: Works Aren't It
3 years ago.

Next in line in James 2 is verse 17, but I am going to skip this verse and include it in with verse 26 in the post following this one.

So today I will be focusing on the first part of James 2:18, which reads

But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works."

You may wonder why I have taken such a small piece of Scripture to write a blog post on, but these 11 words contain a valuable lesson.

Consider the statement: "You have faith, and I have works." How many times can you imagine people saying this, and variations of it, when someone is sharing the Gospel with them? "I don't need your Jesus. He may work for you, but I can get to heaven as long as I do good things." It is simply the same statement using different words.

So often people try to earn their way into heaven by good works, and they think they have no need to believe in Jesus. Sadly, many of those people have never heard the Gospel. No one has taken time to show them that it is by grace through faith alone that they can be saved, and not by doing good works. And they won't understand that they need salvation unless they understand they are sinners.

That means that we need to share the Gospel with them. But do you know how to? Watch this video by Ray Comfort. "The 10 Cannons of God's Law":

Faith and Works #1: What Does It Profit?
3 years ago.

James 2:14-26 is a power packed bunch of verses, full of controversy and inlaid with gems of wisdom. It will take several blog posts to cover these verses, titled "Faith and Works", yet I am excited about finally being able to dig deep into this mysterious chapter. Today's blog post is titled "What Does It Profit?" and is founded upon James 2:14-16:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

Basically it seems to say "If you don't have works, then your faith is useless and you aren't saved." But is that really the case? It appears to be contradicting Ephesians 2:8-9, which states that salvation is by grace through faith alone, and not through works!

How can we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory passages? Before we try it, let us dig deeper into this passage, lest we erroneously misrepresent the Scripture.

Let us take firstly the first question of the passage, found in James 2:14: "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" In other words, what use is your faith unless you work it out? You may have faith, but how are you using it to benefit those around you? Don't let your faith be something that just sits on a shelf collecting dust, that you take up and quickly dust off on Sunday mornings for church. As Christians, we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Ephesians 2:10) not to earn our salvation - that we could never do, save by the blood of Christ - but for the purpose of using our faith, making a difference in the world because of the change wrought in us through the Holy Spirit, to the ultimate goal of bringing others to Christ!

"Can faith save him?" For as the previous question states, it is no profit to a needy person to simply believe that they will be given what they need, as verses 15 and 16 state - "[if] you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" (verse 16).

Faith alone, and prayer for the needy, although powerful and effective, yet as James 5:14-15 says, unless someone acts - actually prayers for him, and anoints him with oil in the name of the Lord.

In Acts 3, did Peter and John walk by the lame man and had faith that he would eventually be healed? Not at all! He said "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And what happened? He took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength! After that, the once lame man leaped up and entered the temple, praising God.

So now we can see that these verses do not contradict Ephesians 2:8-9, but rather they deal with how we, as Christians, should do the good works "that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

How can you serve others today? How can you show them that us Christians are different, that we are ready to clothe the naked and feed the hungry? Let us all remember the words of our Lord when He said in Matthew 25:40: "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."

A God Who Approves Cannibalism?
3 years ago.

It somewhat amuses me how hard people try to prove the incredibility of the Bible, and all they can show for their work is a verse taken out of context to incorrectly present a twisted idea.

Another passage I discovered is used by several anti-Bible people is Jeremiah 19:9, which reads:

And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair.""

Once again, this is another common instance where the Bible's attacker takes a Bible verse out of context and touts it as proof that our God is evil.

To get a better picture of this verse, I am including the entire 19th chapter of Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord: "Go and get a potter's earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests. And go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I will tell you, and say, "Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle. "Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind), therefore behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "that this place shall no more be called Tophet or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who seek their lives; their corpses I will give as meat for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. I will make this city desolate and a hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its plagues. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair."" "Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and say to them," Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury. Thus I will do to this place," says the Lord, "and to its inhabitants, and make this city like Tophet. And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Tophet, because of all the houses on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven, and poured out drink offerings to other gods.""" Then Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord's house and said to all the people, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.""

This chapter of Jeremiah is about God's judgment on Israel. And why was this? Verses 4 and 5 give us the answer: "because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place ... they have burned incense in it to other gods ... and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents."

God's method of punishment was allowing their enemies to defeat them (see verse 7). The enemy's method of attack was a siege, as verse 9 states.

This Wikipedia article describes the process of a siege. In a siege, the enemy encamps around a city, thereby preventing the entrance and exiting of anyone inside. This would mean that unless preparations for it were made in advance, food, water, and supplies would have no way of entering the besieged city. Unless either help arrived, or the city surrendered, its inhabitants could very well due to fierce hunger pains be resorted to cannibalism. This article describes 7 desperate sieges, in which cannibalism most likely existed.

God is not saying he will take a person's children and force them to eat them! Not at all! As verse 9 says, He will cause them to do it, not force or make them do it! He is saying that the siege laid upon Jerusalem will be so desperate that it will cause the outbreak of cannibalism! There is nothing wicked about anything God does! It is simply the natural result of a desperate siege, as history records.

Happy The One Who Dashes
3 years ago.

When I searched the web for a controversial Bible verse on which to write a post, the verse that came up the most was Psalm 137:9.

The verse reads:

Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!

This verse appears to be a common favorite of people who attack the Bible. And if this verse is to be taken by itself, well do they ask "How could the God of the Bible condone the dashing out of babies' brains?"

But as is the problem with most who try to discredit the Bible, they are taking the verse out of context.

Psalm 137 is a psalm of captive Israel. The latter part containing our disputed verse is about how the Lord will repay the nations who oppressed them.

Let us look at the verse again, this time with the previous verse included:

O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, Happy the one who repays you as you have served us! Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!

Whoa! Does that not completely shatter the theory of the attacker of the Bible? The key is in verse 8: "who are to be destroyed". Babylon is going to be destroyed for their oppression of Israel! Verse 9 is not describing a God who loves the death of babes, but rather one who so protects His people, that He will destroy the nation that oppresses them! He is telling the Babylonians to be happy if someone des this to their children, because it would be better to die than to fall under His retribution!

Not Everyone Who Says To Me, "Lord"
3 years ago.

The passage on which today's post is founded upon is Matthew 7:21-23, which in the New King James Version reads:

"Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"

Many people I am sure have asked themselves the following question after reading this passage: "How then can I know I am saved?" since not everyone claiming to be a Christian will enter God's kingdom." I myself wrestled with this question earlier this year in January.

Or others may say, "This is a contradiction in the Bible! Romans 8:38-39 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God, yet this passage says that not every Christian will enter God's kingdom!"

True, Romans 8:38-39 does read

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

but the Bible does not contradict itself. So how can this passage be "dissected correctly" (see my post "Rightly Dividing The Word?")?

In today's culture (and in the world for a long time) there are many people who think they can just be saved through baptism or good works. Part of our passage today reads "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?". Obviously this passage is talking about people who believe they can earn their way into the kingdom of God through doing "many wonders in Your (Jesus') name." These people, because of the number of works they have done, believe they have earned the title of Christian. However, Romans 10:9 clearly states that salvation is only when one believes that Jesus is Lord, and confesses it with the mouth.

Jesus is in this passage is talking about those kind of people. They have never truly become a Christian, and therefore He "never knew them." He describes their good works as lawlessness (see Isaiah 64:6) because good works can never produce salvation. Romans 10:9 clearly tells us how to be saved, and once a person is saved, they can never lose their salvation.

Rightly Dividing The Word?
3 years ago.

A popular verse from the Bible, 2 Timothy 2:15, reads

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

A question I have received several years ago, I was asked why we were supposed to "divide" the Word. Unfortunately, at the time I was unable to answer him, and that is why I will answer this question now.

The Greek word translated as "rightly dividing" is orthotomeo. It comes from two Greek roots. The first is orthos, which means "right", or "straight. The second is tomoteros, which means "to cut". Thus literally orthotomeo means "to make a straight (or right) cut". The word was a figure of speech used to specify the correct dissecting of a subject. The purpose of dissection is to investigate the dissected object and take a closer look at it. Likewise, we are here told to take the Scriptures, and dissect them to find their deeper meaning.

Why then is it translated as "divide"? In order to dissect an object, it usually has to be cut open, or divided into parts, hence the translation of the word as "divide".