January 23, 2011 Overcoming Change

Overcoming Change

Overcoming change can have one of two meanings.  Either it overwhelms you; or you overwhelm it.  Apostle Paul had heard of the breach in sound doctrine being taught in the Ephesian church and knew that time was of the essence.  Like rotting fruit in a basket, other people were being infected by the heresy taught by the few.  So, Paul instructed Timothy to overcome the change that sought to overwhelm the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This may explain why you are in you current context.  Consider Isaiah 55.5.

Change means destructive contrast.

  • 1 Timothy 1.3-4 discuss the heresy, and verse 11 identifies its target.  Remember that the origin and end of heresy is discussed in Isaiah 14.12-15.  And, the process of such deception is revealed in Jeremiah 13.10.
  • Paul has already written about the heresy to believers at Colosse, in Colossians 2.8.  Note how this was being lived out in Ephesus, in 1 Timothy 6.3-5.
  • The heresy in Ephesus was stronger because the city was the center for the worship of fertility that they identified with the Greek goddess of moon worship, Diana (Roman goddess Artemis).  Acts 19.21-41 shows the ferocity of the artisans who merchandised items of worship to the gullible populous.
  • Paul and Barnabas had found Lystra (Acts 14.8-18) and this region of Asia Minor overrun by such mythology.  It must be uprooted!
  • Such heresy could only be overwhelmed by the truth of the Gospel!  Consider 1 Timothy 1.18-20 and 4.1-3.
  • Acts 17.30-31 gives Paul’s argument against similar heresies at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece.  Perhaps, he is remembering this when he writes Romans 1.18-23.

Change means constructive contrast.

  • 1 Timothy 4.7-8 gives Paul’s instruction to Timothy in the face of heresy.  Simply stated: have nothing to do with heresy, but train yourself to be godly!
  • 1 Timothy 4.9-5.2 is how Timothy should train himself.  Pay attention to each instruction; it builds muscles for different uses.  Also read 1 Timothy 6.11-12, 20-21.
  • Paul probably was remembering his words in Romans 12.1-2 while writing to Timothy.  Transforming your mind is the first requirement; your body will follow.  Transforming occurs when philosophies of men are displaced by the truth from God.
  • Jude 20-21 adds prayer to godly training: trapping erroneous thoughts for replacement with godly promises which are truth.

You are Timothy on assignment to confront relativism, mysticism, and other heresies that the Holy Spirit points out in your context.  Engage the fight with the assurance of Matthew 10.19-20 and Hebrews 13.5-6!

Keep looking up for Jesus; Luke 21.28.  Praise God!

January 16, 2011 Subject To Change

Subject to Change

Is your faith ‘subject to change’?  Apostle Peter encourages growth in your faith in 2 Peter 3.18.  Note, too, his warning about a diminished faith in verse 17.  Apostle Paul sets a goal for your growing faith in Ephesians 4.13.  He, too, warns you about those who want to weaken your faith, in verse 14.  The inference in both is that faith is like muscle that must be worked to promote growth or it will atrophy from disuse.  Faith grows from your study of the Bible, as Paul wrote in Romans 10.17.  It also grows from resisting contrary teachings to Christ’s knowledge; see 2 Corinthians 10.3-6.  In this overview, you will consider the Scripture’s identification of attacks to your faith and the means for resisting all attackers from satan.  The following weeks’ lessons will discuss the different Bible references.

A Clear and Present Danger

  • This action movie title sums up what Jesus says in His letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.  You will find the word ‘overcome’ to be the common theme from Jesus.  Recognize the danger and overcome it!
  • Although Paul had warned his readers to be aware of anti-Christs around them, he began to directly confront their deceptions in A.D. 60.
  • In Colossians, he addressed the heretical movement that combined Greek philosophy with Jewish legalism to entrap believers.  Note the deceptions in Colossians 2.8, 16-18.
  • One of Paul’s reasons for writing to believers in Philippi (A.D. 61) was to warn them about deceptions from Jewish legalists.  He uses strong language in Philippians 3.2-3 and 18-19.
  • Paul’s first letter to preacher Timothy included admonishment to refute the heresy being taught in the church at Ephesus.

In 1 Timothy 1.3-4, he identifies false teachers as men who ‘devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies’ that promote controversy.  He includes ‘old wives tales’ in 4.7.

  • Between A.D. 62 and 63, he wrote to another preacher, Titus, who was facing similar heresy in the Cretan church.  Note his description of the ‘rebellious’ in Titus 1.10-16.
  • Another writer identifying satan’s deceivers was Jude.  He wrote between A.D. 64 and 65 to several churches that were being overrun by false teaching who denied the return of Christ.  Jude verses 4-19 describe this clear and present danger.
  • In 2 Peter 2.1-3, 10-14, 17-19, Peter reveals more about the false teachings of satan’s agents sent to disrupt the church by destroying believers’ faith.
  • Between A.D. 67 and 70, Paul (I believe) wrote Hebrews to Jewish Christians who were being tempted to return to Judaism.  His earlier descriptions of their teachings (Colossians, Philippians) can be seen in this letter, summarized in Hebrews 10.1-4.
  • Before writing the Revelation in A.D. 90 and 95, John wrote, in A.D. 80 and 85, to a group of churches that were being overrun by teachers who denied the incarnation and divine Sonship of Jesus, rejected the doctrine of sin, and practiced rampant immorality.  They are identified in 1 John 2.15-17, 22-23, 3.7-8, 4.1-3, 6, and 2 John 1.7.  John identifies such a troublemaker in 3 John 1.9-10.

Is your faith ‘subject to change’? Within about 30 years of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven, satan began to send deceivers to subvert Jesus’ teachings.  Deceivers continue to challenge our beliefs today.  Be like Berean Christians who required ‘proof texts’; Acts 17.11.  Overcome; Revelation 12.11!

January 9, 2011 The Zeal of the Lord

The Zeal of the Lord

Perhaps, another name for God is Jehovah-zealot.  That is how the Bible presents Him.  And, like Father, like Son.  And, for believers, like Head, like Body.  God and Jesus were zealous for people who followed righteousness and zealous against people who did not.  This is the mandate for believers.  Webster defines zeal as eager endeavor or devotion.  What picture comes to your mind when you think about ‘eager’?  I believe that Webster learned these from the Bible, as you will see below.

Zealous God!  Imitating Son!

  • God told Ahaz of His ‘eager endeavor’ of the birth and rule of Jesus in Isaiah 9.6-7.  Look at the last sentence in verse 7.  Was God saying that each of the characteristics or results of Jesus would become reality? ‘Forever’?  So, whose side are you on, as evidenced by your daily thoughts, words, and deeds?
  • God expresses the same ‘eager endeavor’ against the idols some people worshipped in Isaiah 46.10-11.  Pay attention to ‘I have purposed it….’  He ‘purposed’ to be the only God for mankind and has been active against all pretenders; see Exodus 12.12, Isaiah 42.13, Ezekiel 5.13, and John 16.33.  On the other hand, Jeremiah 29.11 says He has a plan for you that he, also, ‘purposed’.  His zeal will accomplish this, too!
  • Zechariah 8.2 tells of God’s zeal for His holy city, Zion.  Isaiah 37.32 and 2 Kings 19.31 quote His zealous commitment to defend Jerusalem from intruders.  Consider what He says in Psalm 68.1-3 and Isaiah 11.4.
  • Jesus’ disciples remembered Psalm 69.9 when His zeal drive the merchants and bankers from the Temple; see John 2.13-17.

Will the Body follow its Head?

  • Psalm 119.139 may be the ideal for your striving; loving God wholeheartedly and giving yourself completely.  Consumed means nothing is left for anything else.
  • Paul concludes the same devotion in Hebrews 13.5-6.  Sounds like Joshua 24.15Numbers 25.6-13 gives another illustration of such devotion that God commends.
  • In Galatians 4.17-18 and Titus 2.11-15, Paul contrasts zeal for bad or good behaviors.  His exhortation is to choose the good, of course.  But, do you?
  • Likewise, he commends the zeal of Corinthians to tithe and give alms and encourages them to follow through; see 2 Corinthians 9.1-5.  You, too, should be a cheerful giver!  Similarly in 1 Corinthians 14.12, he reminds you that your zeal to have and express your Spiritual gifts is for the ‘edification of the church’, not for your glory.
  • But, In Romans 10.1-4, Paul laments the misapplied zeal of Jews for Moses’ Law and not Christ.  Which is your preference – law or Jesus?  Remember that Jesus preached a sermon stripping philosophy from truth; Matthew 5-7.  He said that He fulfilled the Law and Prophets’ descriptions.

Zeal takes a stand favoring God’s positions on topics and against satan’s deceptions.  You are His ambassadors on earth, like representing His interests in a foreign country.  This means that you understand the differences in conflicting beliefs and are able to present God’s position in an attitude of love.  Follow your Head!

January 2, 2011 God With Us!

God with us!

What a declaration! Can you fathom its depths of meaning?  The Creator God (Genesis 1.1) Who fashioned for your habitation the relatively tiny Earth among the giant planets; Who continues to create galaxies of star systems today; yet, Who knit your microscopic parts together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139.13) using laminin to connect them (a molecule that is shaped like the cross of Jesus); and Who hears and answers your every prayer: this great God came to live among mankind two thousand years ago!  Apart from you, He has important work to do, and within you, He does important work, too.

‘I want to be with you!’

This was the essence of Isaiah’s words to King Ahaz about a future generation.

See the prophecy in Isaiah 7.14.

The virgin will give birth to a Son and name Him Immanuel, i.e. God with us!

Joseph heard the same words, but this time they were not prophecy read in the synagogue each year, as he usually heard them.

The time was now, and his fiancé was the chosen virgin.  Read Matthew 1.20-24.

The additional words that Joseph heard include Immanuel’s name ‘Jesus’.  Mary had already heard to name her son ‘Jesus’ but had kept it to herself.  See Luke 1.31.

Why were two names given?  Immanuel = Jesus?

Why this timing of the Prophecy and that of Immanuel’s birth?

Ahaz, the grandson of the powerful and inventive King Uzziah of Judah, was afraid of the kings of Syria and Israel who were trying to conquer him.  Read this story in Isaiah 7.1-13.

God sent Isaiah to assure Ahaz that God would protect him and Judah.

Knowing Ahaz’s fearful heart, God offers to confirm this with whatever sign he asks for.

When Ahaz declines, God foretells that the king of Assyria will overtake Syria and Israel and will, then, come against Judah.  Read this in Isaiah 7.17-8.10.

Note God’s continued deliverance of ‘Immanuel’s land’.

‘But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son…,’ wrote Apostle Paul in Galatians 4.4-6.  God chose the time, hundreds of years later.

The time was finally right to redeem all followers of Moses’ Law, so they could become sons of God.  The Law had only been their tutor until Christ came.  See Galatians 3.24 and Romans 8.3-4.

God is with you!

“Name Immanuel ‘Jesus’”, was God’s angel’s instruction to Joseph, in Matthew 1.21, and to Mary, in Luke 1.31.

So, ‘Jesus’ was the name Immanuel heard from His birth, His name He already knew, being God!

God on earth was to be known by His name, Jesus, among His followers. John 17.11-12.

He had used it well, defeating satan (1 John 3.8b) as God had done in Egypt (Exodus 12.12).  Jesus, even, overcame your fear of death (Hebrews 2.14-16).

Jesus illustrated the attributes of God that He is known by in the OT.

‘Jesus’ is synonymous with Lord in Exodus 6.3. ‘Jesus’ is the Word in John 1.1,14.

Why is this important?

Because you declare ‘God is with me’ whenever you say ‘Jesus’;

absolute rule over satan (Isaiah 9.6-7)!

This is why Jesus wants for you to know Him better; see Jeremiah 9.23-24.

Praise God and look up (Luke 21.28)!!!  ‘I AM coming’!!!