October 27, 2013 That Your Faith Not Fail

That Your Faith Not Fail

These were Jesus’ words to Apostle Peter before He was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane; see Luke 22.31-32. Is it possible for your faith to fail? Apparently, failure is possible, or Jesus would not have stated this. Verses 54-62 detail the pressures that led to Peter’s faith-failure.

The contrast is Apostle Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 4.7: ‘I have kept the faith.’ Uncertainty about the faith of believers in Thessalonica had caused Paul to send Timothy there, since Paul had been forced to leave before he had completed discipling them.

Driven out by jihadists!

  • · Acts 17.1-15 tells the story of Paul’s visit to Thessalonica after leaving Philippi.
  • · What could Paul have preached that cause such a ruckus? After reasoning with Jewish and

Gentile listeners for three weeks, some Jews were not persuaded that Jesus was Messiah and became ‘envious’ and ‘set all the city in an uproar’ (verse 5). Perhaps, after persuading some (verse 4), Paul used Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in John 8.42-47 on the rest (John 3.16-21). Rationale for this possibility is that Paul had preached the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11) and used Jesus’ words to warn them of the wrath to come on unbelievers.

  • · Likewise, Paul’s appeal to Gentiles was probably similar in content to what he preached on

Mars Hill. Acts 17.22-31 presents his conclusion that God would no longer overlook their ignorance in worshipping idols but would condemn them to wrath for not accepting His salvation through Jesus.

  • · Are the arguments Paul heard the same that are stated today? If so, does this mean that

non-Messianic Jews will suffer the same wrath as Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others that reject John 14.6? Consider John 3.18, 5.24, 6.40 & 47, 20.31. How much does this reality bother you?

he found Jews and Gentiles ‘more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica’. What made them more ‘fair-minded’? The Bible is the absolute truth for comparing philosophies (John 17.17; Colossians 2.8-10; Jeremiah 13.10; Proverbs 14.12).

  • · But, jihadists caused another ruckus, and Paul was sent to Athens (Acts 17.13-15).

Jihadists’ goal: destroy your faith in Jesus.

  • · Paul had left Thessalonica before he had finished his teaching, as is inferred from 1 Thessalonians 3.10. He wanted to ‘perfect what is lacking in your faith’ (2 Timothy 3.16-17). What is lacking in your faith? Where does satan have an opportunity to steal your faith (John 10.10)? Since Romans 10.17 is true, what keeps you from studying the Bible? Contrast Jeremiah 13.10 with John 17.17. Proverbs 16.25!
  • · Paul knew what those ‘envious’ Jews would insist upon. He had already written about this

in Galatians 1.6-9, 3.21-25, and 5.1-4 and would later warn church leaders in Ephesus (Acts 20.28-31; also Matthew 9.36) on his way to Jerusalem. The Law of Moses cannot save because of Romans 3.10-20 and Ephesians 2.8-9!

  • · Jesus described this pressure from satan through non-believers in His Parable of the Sower

(Matthew 13.1-23). Notice why the word of God is unproductive: not understood (2 Timothy 2.15), criticized by people (John 5.44), flesh chosen instead (1 John 2.15-17).

Notice why the word of God is productive: it is ‘received’; that is, ‘heard’, ‘understood’ (John 1.12). Which ‘soil’ is your mind and heart? Contemplate Matthew 10.28.

How will you answer Jesus’ question in Luke 18.8? That is the issue. Romans 10.17.

Praise God!!! Copyright (c) by Maurice L. Painter, 2013. www.sozoclass.com

October 20, 2013 Spiritual Warfare is a Struggle for Mercy

Spiritual Warfare is a Struggle for Mercy

Spiritual warfare is a struggle for mercy.  The traditions of Christian denominations and the philosophies and false religions that oppress non-Christian systems of belief struggle against God’s mercy that liberates mankind from satan’s bondage (John 8.31-32). Worldviews ultimately devolve into this epic struggle.  This is what Apostle Paul experienced in Thessalonica in about AD 50.  His 1 & 2 Thessalonians discuss this, the difficult process of becoming a ‘new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5.17) and satan’s weapon of confusion about the rapture of Christians (these last two are subjects of subsequent studies).

The Struggle for Mercy

  • Mercy is God’s desire, as He stated in Hosea 6.6.  What does He prefer over ‘burnt offerings’?  ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ was Jesus’ repeated complaint against the Pharisees and religious leaders (Matthew 9.13; 12.7).  God’s seat in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle was called the ‘mercy seat’ (Exodus 25.17-20) and expressed His character.  Commandments from God are the knowledge of God; God revealing Himself to His people (Jeremiah 7.23; 9.23-24). His commandments are His mercy (Exodus 20.6).
  • Jesus came to reestablish mercy among the Jews, as He stated in Matthew 5.7. Mercy is the essence of His instruction in Matthew 10.7-8.  Notice Jesus’ description in Matthew 11.28-30 and Apostle John’s commentary thereon in 1 John 5.3-4.
  • Matthew 4.23-25 illustrate God’s mercy, for Jesus said John 5.19 and 12.49.
  • Thus, Jesus commanded the Christian lifestyle of Mark 16.15-20.  How will you, thereby, show God’s mercy just like Jesus did?  1 Corinthians 2.4-5 states Paul’s understanding.
  • But, the Pharisees and religious leaders had abandoned God’s commandments in favor of their traditions.  Consider Jesus’ evidence and condemnation in Matthew 15.1-6.  Jesus’ lifestyle demonstrated mercy but violated their traditions, as He discussed with the Pharisees in John 8.30-47, especially verse 47.
  • And, Thessalonica had its philosophers, just like Paul experienced in Athens, when he was run out of Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17.10, 13-15; Matthew 10.14-15 explains why he did not stay and fight spiritual warfare; remember, mercy was only given to those who would receive it – see John 1.12 and Hebrews 11.6).
  • Paul’s message in Acts 17.22-32 was probably similar to his message in Thessalonica and Berea.  How is this like John 3.16-21 and 14.6? How would this be received today?
  • This struggle for mercy was what Paul faced in Thessalonica in AD 50.

Thessalonica: From Easton’s Bible Dictionary: ‘A large and populous city on the Thermaic bay’ (of the Aegean Sea).  ‘It was the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia, and was ruled by a praetor.  It was named after Thessalonica, the wife of Cassander, who built the city.  She was so called by her father, Philip, because he first heard of her birth on the day of his gaining a victory over the Thessalians.’  (Google to see the city on maps.)

Why is this important?

  • God still desires mercy today.  Isaiah 58.1-14 is just as relevant as it was long ago.
  • But, satan still schemes with traditions that ‘transgress the commandments of God’ (any denomination’s works requirement for you to ‘complete’ God’s salvation; Galatians 5.1-4).
  • And, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism, agnosticism, Judaism, even church membership are philosophies and errors evidencing 2 Corinthians 4.3-4.
  • You see those needing God’s mercy everyday.  They await your rescue! Jeremiah 7.23.
  • Matthew 9.35-36: protect God’s flocks of sheep assigned to you!

Philippians 2.9-11!  Praise God!!!

Copyright (c) by Maurice L. Painter, 2013.  Studies are posted at www.sozoclass.com.

October 13, 2013 Spiritual Warfare Seen Every Day

Spiritual Warfare Seen Every Day

(Part 6 in Paul’s teachings about spiritual warfare)

Never ending; that’s what spiritual warfare is – never ending!  Exodus 12.12 in the Old Testament; Mark 9.25 in the New Testament; Revelation 3.16 (Ezekiel 22.30) recorded by Apostle John 60 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection…victory over sin and death.  You will be at war with satan, retrieving the victims of his schemes and abuse, until Psalm 110.1-2 are true.  Once assigned your plot to ‘occupy’ (Luke 19.13, KJV), you stand your ground until you can give the report of Jesus’ disciples in Luke 10.17.  The following anonymous Warrior’s Prayer should be yours and spoken:

Heavenly Father,

Your warrior prepares for battle.

Today I claim victory over Satan by putting on

the whole armor of God!

I put on the Girdle of Truth!

May I stand firm in the truth of Your Word

so I will not be a victim of Satan’s lies.

I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness!

May it guard my heart from evil

so I will remain pure and holy,

protected under the blood of Jesus Christ.

I put on the Shoes of Peace!

May I stand firm in the Good News of the Gospel

so Your peace will shine through me

 and be a light to all I encounter.

I take the Shield of Faith!

May I be ready for Satan’s fiery darts of

doubt, denial and deceit

so I will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat.

I put on the Helmet of Salvation!

May I keep my mind focused on You

so Satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts.

I take the Sword of the Spirit!

May the two-edged sword of Your Word

be ready in my hands

so I can expose the tempting words of Satan.

By faith Your warrior has put on

the whole armor of God!

I am prepared to live this day in spiritual victory!

Amen

‘Occupy’ the context assigned to you until you are relieved…in Jesus’ name (Philippians 2.9-11)!

Praise God!!!  Copyright (c) by Maurice L. Painter, 2013.  www.sozoclass.com

October 6, 2013 Prayer as Part of the Armor of God

Prayer as Part of the Armor of God

(Part 5 of Paul’s teaching about spiritual warfare)

(see Parts 1-4 at www.sozoclass.com)

The Apostle Paul concluded his teaching on spiritual warfare with encouragement to pray.  He connected Ephesians 6 verse 18 to verse 17, about taking the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, i.e., God’s word of promise and power.  How is prayer a natural continuation of his thought?  Consider David, the Jewish shepherd boy with the sling, against Goliath, the giant warrior of the Philistines; see 1 Samuel 17.45-47.  David’s helmet was his confidence in the power of the ‘name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.’  His sword was the word of God collected in the name ‘Lord’ (Exodus 6.3; Matthew 5.17; Romans 10.4); Lord over the enemies that would try to destroy God’s people, including you.  ‘The Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s…’ (1 Samuel 17.47; 2 Corinthians 10.3-6)!  David voiced a prayer, in the sense that Paul wrote in Ephesians 6.18 (AD 60). 

‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit’

  • ‘Praying always….’  About 10 years earlier (AD 50), Paul had written this imperative in 1 Thessalonians 5.17, at the beginning of his second missionary journey (AD 51-53): ‘Pray without ceasing’.  Verse 18 continues the thought and describes ‘always’ as ‘in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’  Not being in bad things, but in giving thanks to God.  Paul may have remembered the events of Acts 13-14, especially 14.19-20 (AD 46), as he would to Timothy in AD 66 in 2 Timothy 3.10-11).
  • He, also, reflected on these bad events in 2 Corinthians 12.1-10 (AD 56-57).  Note a confidence similar to David’s in verse 10: ‘The Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s….’  ‘When I am weak, then, I am strong.’   So, Paul could write 2 Corinthians 2.14!  Pray ALWAYS!
  • Prayer‘ in Ephesians 6.18 means worship in the Greek.  David illustrated this in his words in 1 Samuel 17.46-47.  Paul illustrated this in the jail at Philippi; Acts 16.25; also Acts 13.2a – ‘ministered to the Lord’.  David’s Psalms are great examples of his worship.  So are Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1.15-23 and 3.14-21How does your daily worship compare?
  • Supplication‘ comes after worship and is the confident plea for God’s favor, in the way He wants to demonstrate it.  Paul expressed a similar thought in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5 (AD 55-56). Supplication is illustrated in Acts 4.23-31.  Do your prayers ‘rock’ your world?  In James 5.16b, the words ‘fervent prayer’ are the word ‘supplication’.  Verses 17-18 give another good illustration. (Notice, too, how verses 13-16a express worship before supplication.)  An Old Testament illustration is King Hezekiah’s pray in Isaiah 37.  Insurmountable bad thing; exceedingly abundantly good result from worship and supplication!
  • Praying always in the Spirit‘ isn’t necessarily speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14.2, 4, 14-15).  More importantly, Paul expressed his understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role in Romans 8.26-27, written in AD 56-57.  Pray in the Spirit because He ‘helps in our weaknesses’ (perhaps like 2 Corinthians 12.10, Acts 4.29-30, and Hebrews 4.16), like when the ‘bad’ is so overwhelming that you cannot find the right words to express the depth of your hurt or confusion in prayer.  The picture of Jesus in agony in the Garden before His crucifixion illustrates this; see Luke 22.42-44 (2 Corinthians 5.21).  The Spirit’s ‘groaning’ strengthens you because of Hebrews 11.6, Ephesians 2.18, and 1 Timothy 2.8!  Like shepherd David said, the battle is the Lord’s, and He will direct your ‘rock’ to its target!  God’s grace is defined as His promise and willingness to use His great power to bring it to reality for you!
  • Jesus’ Model Prayer (Matthew 6.9-13) illustrates worship and supplication.  Note Jesus’ statement (John 6.63) about what happens when He prayed.  Is this true for your words: are they ‘life’? (James 3.2, 5-6, 8-10; Proverbs 18.21Why should you conclude from this that you must pray in the Spirit?
  • Examples of this: women in Matthew 9.21, 15.22 ; men in Matthew 8.8, 9.18, 17.15.

Praise God!!!  Copyright (c) by Maurice L. Painter, 2013.