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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
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    Wed, Jul 27th - 5:18PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



     8: When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab's garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out. 
     
     9: And Joab said to Amasa, Are you in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
    10: But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand: so he struck him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.

    So much for family ties.  Joab quite obviously had significant doubts as to Amasa's loyalty to king David.  Being the man of action that he was he took matters into his own hands and killed Amasa outright with one blow.  Joab's choices to up and murder people when it was not always necessary to do so just might catch up to him and force him to reap what he sows.  But, they wasted little time upon killing Amasa, they resumed their hot pursuit of Sheba.

    11: And one of Joab's men stood by him, and said, He that favours Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab.
    12: And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still.
    13: When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
    14: And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.
    15: And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.
    16: Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near to me, that I may speak with you.
    17: And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Are you Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of your handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.
    18: Then she spoke, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.
    19: I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: you seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why will you swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?
    20: And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy (20:11-20).

    One soldier finally realizes that Amasa can't be left out in the middle of the road with his guts hanging out on the ground.  No one will move while he lays out their in their path.  So once that bit of civility is taken care of all of them continue on in pursuit of Sheba who has holed himself up in the city of Abel.   Joab means to know down the walls in order to enter and kill Sheba.  I would imagine that he would kill whoever chose to get in his way.  But, we have a wise woman who has the courage to call out to Joab from somewhere along the city's wall.  She does not desire to see herself, her family, and her city become destroyed over this problem.  So she eloquently puts the question to Joab.  "Are you going to destroy the inheritance of God?"  And she receives the king of answer that she was seeking.

    21: The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.
    22: Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.
    23: Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites:
    24: And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder:
    25: And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
    26: And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David (20:21-26).  

    So there we have it.  Joab informs this wise woman of Abel whom they are seeking, and lo and behold, she offers to throw Sheba's head over the wall to him!  Wow! A woman of decisiveness and action.  She has placed her faith in God and knows that Sheba has gone against the will of God by rebelling against the king.  The good people of Abel behead Sheba the rebel and throw his head out over the wall to Joab and his army.  All has been relatively quietly been resolved concerning Sheba so Joab and his men turn around and go back to Jerusalem.  The last few verses of this chapter reveal for us exactly who held what positions within David's government.  

    That is all for today my friends.  David probably began thinking that things might calm down, now that Sheba was dead and his rebellion laid to rest.  Or, perhaps he had that niggling little feeling in the pit of his stomach that more judgment from God, the consequences of his previous sins, were still to come into his life.  We shall see next time.  Grace and peace be with you.  

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Jul 25th - 10:06PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     1: Judge not, that you be not judged.
     
     2: For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again (7:1-2). 

    Unbelievers generally quote this verse because they want people to tolerate everything that they are doing.  They do not desire to change anything about themselves.  But these verses do not mean that there is to be absolutely no judging of behavior.  These two verses state that if I do not wish to be judged myself, then keep my mouth closed.  However I may choose to judge a person, that standard will be used against me as well.  Inward motives are very difficult to ascertain, let alone judge.  We can only see the outward acts, God alone sees the inward motives behind the acts.  Wicked and evil acts are to be judged by us for they go against the commandments of God Himself.  But we are to be extremely careful to not judge harshly for it will come time for us to be judged one day.  

     3: And why do you observe the mote that is in your brother's eye, but don't consider the beam that is in your own eye (7:3)?  

    The comparison being made here is between finding a bit of sawdust in your friend's eye but you overlook the sequoia log sticking out of your own eye!  We are so willing to find fault in others, but totally unwilling to see our own faults.  Willing to criticize others, to be prejudiced against others, but unwilling to take a cold, rational, assessment of ourselves.  To be unwilling to see our own faults puts us in a position to not judge anyone until we "fix" our own faults.

     4: Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?

     5: You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye (7:4-5).  

    As can be seen, we are to do a thorough self-assessment and correction of our own behaviors and character before we begin to attempt at pointing out faults in another person.  I can't rant at someone over their cocaine addiction while I am swilling down alcohol seven days a week.  Drug addiction is drug addiction no matter the drug.  Same goes for tobacco versus marijuana.  What we can be are "fruit inspectors."  Jesus said that we would be able to know people by what kind of fruit we found in their lives.  There is good fruit and there is bad fruit.  We must learn which is which for then we have a standard by which we can determine whether people are believers or not.  We can also determine whether or not a believer is living out a Christian life or not by the evidence of fruit in their life.  

     6:  Don't give that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you (7:6).  

    The requirement here becomes being able to identify the dogs and the pigs.  Christ was not speaking about four-legged animals but the two-legged kind.  There is a judgment that we must make here.  

    There are times/places when it is not appropriate to say a single word.  In our society today there are dogs and there are swine that roam the streets.  What are we to do?  Are we to preach the gospel repeatedly to those who are at the bottom of the proverbial barrel morality-wise and ethically-wise?  No.  That is giving that which is holy to "dogs."  Casting pearls of godly wisdom before "pigs" will gain you nothing, only scorn, mockery, and ridicule.  It may even lead to you being badly beaten to death.  But, brother, that would make me a martyr!  Would it?  To go expressly against what God has said to do?  He has plainly warned us against wasting our time repeating His message of redemption to the same people over and over.  If they reject the message we are to move on to the next person.

     7: Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find it; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

     8: For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened (7:7-8).  

    Every day each of us rubs shoulders with all sorts of people: poor, rich, middle class, white collar, blue collar, women, men, salaried, hourly, nice, wicked, physically ill, mentally ill, and every conceivable shade in between.  Some desperately need our friendship and help, and we need some of them.  Others are "players" and manipulators, they will destroy either our families, our jobs, both, or even us personally.  How can we possibly know?  Verses seven and eight here address this problem, as well as several more.  Don't know how to discern what sort of person is talking to you?  Silently ask God to help you understand clearly who this person really is.  Ask Him to open up your eyes so that you are able to pick up things about them that may give you clues as to what is going on inside of them.  Carefully listen to their speech and its patterns.  What  we don't know we must ask for from God in prayer at all times and in all places.

    Should we expect God to give us good information?  Why?

     9: Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask for bread, will he give him a stone?

    10: Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent?

    11: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him (7:9-11)?  

    God means to give everyone good things, if we will simply stop rebelling against Him and ask Him for what we need by praying for it.  To find out more about prayer, how to pray, why it is necessary to pray, and what things are directly linked to prayer, please visit my other blog, "Koinonia."  

    12: Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, you do even to them: for this is the law and the prophets (7:12).

    Here is the so-called "Golden Rule."  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  So when I meet someone new I treat them like I would like anyone else to treat me.  No cursing, no crudeness, no jokes laced with sexual innuendo.  There is to be no judging of the person.  But what if they happen to be a "dog" or "pig?"  I must therefore engage in silent prayer and ask God to show me whether or not this person is someone of whom I need to steer clear of.  "Therefore" is the important word in this verse.  It relates this "golden rule" to that which preceded it in the scriptures.  It sends the reader back to verses 7-11 and the importance of prayer.  No one may cherry pick verse twelve and claim that they live it out each and every day.  Only through asking, seeking, and knocking through prayer are we going to be able to live out the golden rule.  It is the only way.

    That is all for tonight my friends.  We learned tonight that we must judge ourselves first, then attempt to help our neighbor/s to see their faults.  We also learned that we must learn how to tell the difference between people who might be able to use the Good News to change their lives and those who will only ruthlessly reject it and quite possibly do us physical harm.  Finally, we learned that prayer is the single most important factor in our Christian lives.  Without it we can't learn what we don't know spiritually nor can we change anyone else's life.  We learned that there are no quotas upon who may receive answers to their prayers.

    Next time we shall look at the two ways that exist in this world of ours.  We will also see that God clearly knows that not every single person who claims to be a Christian actually is one.  So come on back and continue studying with me here in the Book of Matthew.  May you walk in grace, speak in love, and reap a bountiful harvest!

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Jul 24th - 11:21AM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



     1: And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, A Benjaminite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel (20:1).  

    Here is the record of yet another revolt against king David.  God promised that David's life would become filled with strife because of the sins that he had committed previously.  You reap what you sow.  So we shall see that the sword will not leave from David's house.  What is noteworthy in all of this?  We never read of David whining or whimpering about how "unfair" all of this is.  David understands that this is the just punishment of his prior sin.

    "A man of Belial" is understood to be a person who is reckless or lawless.  "And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel (II Corinthians 6:15)?"  Someone who is associated with Belial can't be in agreement, or covenant, with Christ.  As the term is used in II Corinthians it is an appellation of Satan, it personifies all that is bad.

     2: So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah remained by the side of their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem (20:2).  

    How faithless the men of Israel were.  To come out and publicly state that they had absolutely no inheritance from an anointed man of God was a confession, though they were unaware of it, of their rebellion against God.  We can't sit today and pass judgment upon these people for doing crude and uncivilized things.  We do the exact same things ourselves.  How many elected persons have said something in public which they probably should not have, and when a "poll" is taken, it is found out that his//her popularity has plummeted so much that they are unelectable at the next election?  This is something which can happen to any officeholder.  It proves how fickle the "mob" can be.  God knows our hearts.  The truth is stated boldly in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it?"  This verse speaks about all hearts, not just those of dictators, or serial killers.  Your heart, my heart, they are the ones being spoken about by God in this verse.  The apostle Paul knew this truth for he spoke of it in Romans 7:18, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I do not find."  Sheba vocalized that which was in the hearts of the men of Israel and the mob left their king en mass.  

     3: And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women who were his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but did not go in to them.  So they were shut up until the day of their deaths, living in widowhood.

     4: Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble for me the men of Judah within three days, and you be present here with them.

     5: So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had been appointed with.

     6: And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take you your lord's servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us.

     7: And there went out after him Joab's men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri (20:3-7).  

    These concubines were the ones which Absalom had slept with, they were no longer going to be intimate with king David.  But he took proper care of them the remainder of their lives.  We need to remember that Amasa was the captain of the rebel forces under Absalom.  We learn from II Samuel 17:25 and I Chronicles 2:17 that he was the son of Abigail, a sister of David's.  That made him a cousin of Absalom's.  

    Amasa takes too much time to gather the men of Judah potentially giving Sheba time to entrench himself in a few cities.  So David sends Joab out with the army of men who are available at that time to run down the rebel, Sheba.  We are able to see that David was aware of the greater danger presented to him in the person of Sheba.  Next time we shall discover exactly what Joab will do when he finds Amasa and then Sheba.  

    I pray that you come back to find out more of how we are to react to the troubles which come into our lives due to our own personal sin/s.  David's life at this point is a living example of how we are to treat the consequences of what we have improperly sowed in our lives.  May the grace and peace of Christ our Lord and Savior be yours this day!

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Jul 23rd - 2:12PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    26: Behold the birds of the air: for they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much better than they (6:26).?

    This begins a section where Christ tells the reader to not give too much thought to our material needs.  Birds can't sow seeds nor can they reap crops.  They can't gather in crops and store them in a barn of any sort, but we surely can.  We are to sow, reap, and store with the same freedom that any bird has.  The bird trusts God to take care of it, and so we too are to trust God to take care of us.  It does not mean that we aren't to exercise sound judgment, for God has given us this ability.  But God does not intend for us to obsess over material things night and day.  They are not to become what motivates our every action.  Once the material becomes our sole motivator it has become a burden to us and becomes an idol.

    27: Which of you by thinking can add one cubit to his/her height?

    28: And why do you think about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not work, neither do they spin (6:27-28).

    Do I have the ability to increase my stature simply by thinking myself taller?  No, I can't.  So why waste the time worrying about how tall I am?  Why not simply be happy with who I am?  How about the amount of time men and women spend on purchasing the "right" clothing?  How often do people claim that they can't possibly go out tonight simply because they do not have the "right" suit, dress, or whatever, to wear?  Why waste so much time, money, and energy, obsessing over clothing when the flowers of the field exhibit more beauty than all of our clothing combined?

    29: And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these (6:29).

    God wants us to be beautiful, but not through the efforts of spending inordinate amounts of money on what goes on our bodies to make us look different.  We ought to take some time to look our best, but not spend huge chunks of time and money upon our outward appearance.  It is vanity.  Solomon had tremendous amounts of money, had the ability to dress himself in expensive clothing, and yet even he could not match the beauty of the flowers which grow wild out in our world.

    30: Therefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow it is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith (6:30)? 

    Do not be overly anxious about the things of this world.  Are we not much more important than the plants of our world?  If God provides what is necessary for them to grow and flower, shall He not do the same for us?  Our faith in God is brought into question here.  Do we really trust God,or don't we? 

    31: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, How will we be clothed?

    32: (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.

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

    34: Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take care of itself.  Sufficient is the evil of each day (6:31-34). 

    These verses do not mean to be utterly unconcerned about what is covering our bodies.  God provides covering for the plants and animals of the wild, He will provide covering for us as well.  What the reality is is this:  Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.   So, stop worrying about what tomorrow will bring, simply live for today and deal with what comes your way on this day. 

    These verses also reveal to us that we are to keep all things in proper perspective, and in proper order.  "Seek first the kingdom" means that we are to pursue the things of God first and let God give us all of the things which we deem necessary.  We might just be amazed to find out what God would bless us with if we simply would seek Him out first.  But this requires faith and deep trust in God.

    That finishes chapter six, and brings us to chapter seven in which we will be looking at the relationship of the child of the King with other children of the King and how it is to be maintained.  We will also be looking at warnings concerning the two "ways," false prophets, false profession of faith, and the "two foundations."  Grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Jul 21st - 12:49PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    25: And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, Why didn't you go with me, Mephibosheth?

    26: And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for your servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride upon, and go to the king; because your servant is lame.

    27: And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in your eyes.

    28: For all of my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet you did set your servant among them that did eat at your own table.  What right therefore have I yet to cry any more to the king (19:25-28). 

    Here is a man who clearly understood how much generosity he had already obtained from the king and was not going to attempt to claim more at this time.  He knew full well that David could easily have decided to kill him years before because of what King Saul had attempted to do to David.  He essentially placed himself at the king's mercy here.  "Do with me as you see fit."

    29: And the king said to him, Why do you speak any more of your matters?  I have said, You and Ziba divide the land.

    30: And Mephibosheth said to the king, Yes, let him take it all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace to his own house (19:29-30).

    This cements Mephibosheth's admission of placing himself at the king's mercy.  He wanted no part of his father's property. 

    31: And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over the Jordan River.

    32: Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even eighty years old: and he had provided the king with sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim; for he was a very great man.

    33: And the king said to Barzillai, Come over with me, and you and I will eat in Jerusalem.

    34: And Barzillai said to the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem.

    35: I am this day eighty years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? why then should your servant be yet a burden to my lord the king?

    36: Your servant will go a little way over the Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward (19:31-36).

    Oh, that David could have been this forgiving with Absalom!  If only he could have been this magnaminous with his own son.  Barzillai had helped the king because he was a man of God.  He knew that David was the anointed king of the nation.  David understood this man's motivation back then and now he wished to show his gratitude by inviting the elderly man to come and eat at his table in Jerusalem with him.  Too bad David had not received Absalom as a prodigal son, putting his arms around him in forgiveness and placing a robe over his shoulders.  A feast ought to have been thrown in celebration of the return of the son of the king.  Perhaps much of the hurt and pain could have been totally avoided as a result.

       37: Let your servant, I pray you, turn back again, that I may die in my own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. But behold your servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto you.
       38: And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto you: and whatsoever you shall require of me, that will I do for you.
       39: And all the people went over the Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.
       40: Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him: and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel.
       41: And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen you away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David's men with him, over the Jordan?
       42: And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us: why then be you angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king's cost? or has he given us any gift?
       43: And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than you: why then did you despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel (19:37-43).

    Isn't this just typical of people?  We must quarrel and fight about just about anything and everything in life.  How petty is this "offense?"  The men of Israel feel left out, shunned, set aside, in the pomp and circumstance of escorting the king back into Jerusalem.  But had they rushed out in earnestness to help at the very outset?  Somehow I do not think so.  The Israelites believed that they had more claim on king David than his own brethren did.  Notice how they pointed out that they had "ten parts in the king?"  That refers to how many tribes out of the twelve were represented by Israel versus Judah.  This had devolved into a genealogy dispute.  And yet the minority view was more fiercely vocalized than the majority view.  Do you think that things are going to be nice and quiet when David arrives back in Jerusalem?

    Next time I shall begin chapter twenty, a chapter which brings us more revolt, vengeance, and famine within the Davidic kingdom.  There will even be war with the Philistines once again.  Peace will be hard to find at this time.  Hope you come back again to learn more.  Grace and peace be yours this hot and humid day!

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Jul 20th - 6:53PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    14: For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

    15: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

    16: Moreover when you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (6:14-16).

    We find here that God will not forgive us of our sins, errors, and trespasses if we fail to forgive others. This also impacts the ability of our prayers to reach the ears of God.  If we harbor an unforgiving heart then God will be unforgiving of us as well.  As I have said elsewhere, forgiving others is not dependent upon them doing anything in return.  God forgave our sins through the redemptive work of Christ Jesus without requiring us to accept His gift.  Acceptance is up to us.  

    Verse sixteen moves into dealing with fasting which must be teamed up with prayer from time to time.  Fasting is a valuable thing to pair with fervent prayer, however, it must be done privately as a personal matter between you and God.  The religious of Jesus' day made a public display of their fasting so that all would know that they were fasting.  It was all meant to impress others and did not achieve any spiritual significance as it ought to have.

    17: But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face;

    18: So that you won't appear to men to fast, but unto your Father which is in secret: and your Father, which sees in secret, shall reward you openly (6:17-18). 

    Instead of doing what the Pharisees and Sadducees used to do, we are to wash ourselves up and make sure that we do not look as if we have been fasting.  Keep it secret, between you and God, and God says that He will reward you openly.  You will be blessed for all to see as long as you keep your fasting private.  Stop with the public showing of piety and the trappings of humbleness and meekness when in reality you are none of that.  Quit with the sighing and long faces as you fast before God.  Now let's turn to the making of money and the meaning of real riches, shall we?

    19: Don't lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal:

    20: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break in nor steal:

    21: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (6:19-21).

    For those people who feel that money is evil or wicked, please read these verses very carefully.  Jesus Christ says that we are to store up in heaven spiritual treasures which will not decompose or be stolen away from us.  How?  Instead of putting our money in a bank we should put it in heaven by giving it to God's work down here on earth.  But we must make sure that it is actually the Lord's work.  Should we invest our money in an ornate worship building?  For what purpose?  Or should we invest our money in things which reach out to people who are in need; the poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged.  Perhaps we should invest money in discipleship programs that train people in what Christ has commanded us all to do and not do.  Perhaps we should invest in Christian schooling for our congregation's children and any people who want their children to get a solid education in the four core subject areas.  All of these store treasure in heaven for us as they create spiritual rewards in people being saved, being trained to be disciples of Jesus, and growing to maturity as Christians.  

    We are to be giving in order to share the gospel with as many people as we are able.  Maybe you don't give those reasons.  You should.  Hoarding money and property down here makes our hearts center upon those things rather than upon doing God's work.  Investing our money in the stock market forces our minds and hearts to focus upon that thing rather than upon God.  It will eventually tempt us to worship money and the making of money rather than worshipping God. 

    We are not to place greater priority upon making money over spending time with our children and spouses, and serving God.  Everything must be found in its proper place in our lives in order to lay up treasure in heaven for all of eternity.  


    22: The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single, your whole body shall be full of light.

    23: But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!

    24: No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

    25: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment (6:22-25)?

    These verses highlight the importance upon paying attention to what we look at.  We fool ourselves if we believe that we can watch pornographic videos, pictures, and live exotic dancers, and not compromise our integrity and morals.  Our minds record all of the images and can't erase them afterwards.  It is a matter of darkening our minds and our souls with what we allow to enter our minds via our eyesight.  

    Christ spoke directly about how we can't serve more than one master at a time.  "Mammon" is a term which is used to personify riches, or wealth.  A person who chases after more and more wealth can't serve God also.  Their idol in life has become wealth and the process of accumulating it.  This is what makes it difficult for wealthy people to reach heaven, their heart is where their wealth is: here on earth in banks, stocks, bonds, investment properties, and various derivatives.  

    As we read verse 25 we discover that God expects us to not become obsessed with what we will wear each day, or what we will eat, for our lives are much, much, more than either of these things.

    That is all for today beloved.  Next time I shall continue on and review verses which speak about other material things and what our relationship to them ought to be.  May our Lord richly bless you and keep you from falling into the snares of Satan.

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Jul 19th - 1:13PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "The preaching that kills may be, and often is, orthodox---dogmatically, inviolably orthodox.  In the Christian system, unction is the anointing of the Holy Ghost, separating a person unto God's work and preparing him/her for it.  This unction is the one divine enablement by which the preacher accomplishes the peculiar and saving ends of preaching.  Without this unction  there are no true spiritual results accomplished.  The results and forces in preaching do not rise above the results of unsanctified speech.  Without unction the former is as potent as the pulpit...without it the gospel has no more power to propagate itself than any other system of truth.  This is the seal of its divinity.  Unction in the preacher puts God in the gospel."

                                  ~Charles H. Spurgeon 

    12: You are my brethren, you are my bones and my flesh: why then are you the last to bring back the king?

    13: And you say to Amasa, Are you not of my bone, and of my flesh?  God do so to me, and more also, if you be not captain of the host before me continually in the room of Joab.

    14: And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man; so that they sent this word unto the king, Return, and all your servants.

    15: So the king returned, and came to Jordan.  And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to conduct the king over the Jordan River.

    16: And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which was of Bahurim, hastened and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David.

    17: And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king (19:12-17). 

    Upon being rebuked by David for their tardiness in requesting his return to Jerusalem as their king, the people unanimously choose him to be their king again.  Shimei was the one who had cursed David when he had left Jerusalem, now he desires to be the first to welcome him back into the land. 

    18: And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king's household, and to do what he thought good.  And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over the Jordan River;

    19: And said to the king, Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do you remember that which your servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart.

    20: For your servant does know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.

    21: But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD'S anointed(19:18-21)? 

    Ahhh, Shimei has had an awakening, some enlightenment has crashed in upon him.  He realized his grave error in cursing king David as the king left Jerusalem.  No one was free to curse God's anointed leader of nation Israel.  Abishai points out a very true statute.  The king could easily signal that Shimei be taken out and stoned or even beheaded.  What will be David's decision?

    22: And David said, What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruaih, that you should this day be adversaries to me?  shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel?  for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel (19:22)? 

    David calmly rebukes Abishai, for there has been more than enough bloodshed in the previous days of fighting and the king desires that there not be more.  David clearly understood that God had restored the throne to him.  David had not taken offense at what Shimei had flung verbally after him as he left Jerusalem and he was not about to repeat past mistakes immediately upon becoming king again. 

    Too many of us today allow little things to bother us.  We allow what others say about us, or to us, to distract and offend us.  Is God blessing you today?  Then do not allow problems on your church board, or deacon board, or at work to trouble you and draw your focus away from what God wants you to be doing.  You are serving God, God is on your side.  Live your life above the small irritations and pettiness of others, serve the Lord and keep your eyes upon the goal of your life:  Jesus Christ.

    23: Therefore the king said unto Shimei, You shall not die.  And the king swore to him.

    24: And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace (19:23-24). 

    David relieved Shimei's worries about the repercussion of his loose lips earlier.  There will be absolutely no retributions based upon his cursing out the king.  The son of Saul had lamented the departure of David from Jerusalem.  He had refused to take care of his personal hygiene the whole time that the king was gone.  It was his way of stating his position with Absalom.  He was a steadfast friend of David's, fasting and praying for his friend the entire time that David was in hiding and exile.  Isn't it great to find out that you have such friends in your times of trouble?  Sure.

    That is all for today my friends.  My apologies if you have been patiently waiting for this study to continue.  I will be posting to this study two to three times each week until it is competed.  May Christ richly bless you and grace you with His mind in all matters.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Jul 18th - 8:37PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     7: But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

     8: Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him (6:7-8). 

    It would seem that Catholics ought to refrain from repeating the rosary repetitiously.  All of us must not indulge in repeating formal short prayers expecting God to honor them, these verses speak directly against them.  God is not hard of hearing or senile.  He hears us upon the first prayer spoken.

    Our prayer life must be marked by sincerity and simplicity: 
     
       1.   Sincerity---Matthew 6:6 tells us to go in and close the door for our prayer is between us and God.

       2.   Simplicity---Matthew 6:7 tells us to refrain from vain repetitions.  Get to the point, tell God what is upon your mind and heart.  Even though He knows what you will pray for, He wants us to come to Him and ask.  We tend to have a difficult time asking others for help, for assistance, for support.  God wants us to practice for He told us that we will have not because we ask not, and because we ask wrongly.  

     9: After this manner therefore pray: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name (6:9).

    To pray this during a Sunday morning service would tend to be vain and repetitious for most of those people attending are going to be going home to a fine meal.  But during an evening worship service or mid-week bible study this would be fine to do.  This is a fine prayer to begin each day with upon waking up.  

    This prayer is a model given to us by Jesus Christ.  It is not a prayer which He could pray for the relationship between the Father and the Son is one in deity.  It is a position, not a begetting, which causes many an atheist to stumble over.  

    This prayer informs us as to where God the Father can be found at this time: in heaven.  God is beyond and above our universe.  He is in the air spaces, the stellar spaces, and yet He is far removed from this universe as He is its Creator.  A Creator is never a part of the creation.  

    "Hallowed be Your name" tells us that God's name is to be made holy.  How can we make God's name holy?  Through living holy, separated, pleasing lives we make His name holy.  Our lives are to reveal the reverence that we feel for God.

    10: Your kingdom come.  Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

    11: Give us this day our daily bread (6:10-11).  

    This is the kingdom of which Matthew has been speaking to us about.  This is the kingdom which Christ will establish on this earth when He returns.  Today God's will is not being done here on earth, this is something that will happen in the future.  It is why believers are joyously looking forward to that day when Christ returns on the clouds and sets His feet upon the ground in Israel.  At that time peace will be a reality all across the globe.  

    Verse eleven highlights the fact that we must rely upon God for our spiritual sustenance.  It is right here, at this point, that we must ask from the depths of our heart.  Enthusiasm has to arise within our hearts and overflow and bubble out from our lips.  Our bodily wants, our physical needs, are all supplied by God day by day.  Recall that the Hebrews, while wandering out in the wilderness for forty days, were given manna from heaven each day.  They gathered it up every morning and it was enough to feed them for that day.  They could not gather more for the next day for it would rot over night.  They could not hoard food.  God was training them.  This prayer trains us to gather daily bread from God each and every morning.  

    12: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (6:12).

    See, Jesus could not pray this prayer for He had no sin to be forgiven of.  Instead of this being called "The Lord's Prayer"  it ought to be called "The Disciple's Prayer."  This verse is not to used to mislead ourselves into thinking legalistically.  What we ought to see here is God's ordained principle of being forgiven of debts owed to God thus forgive others for debts that they owe you.  This verse could easily be tied to Ephesians 4:32, "And you be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."  God forgives us based upon what Christ Jesus has already done for us upon the cross.  The redemption of God is in full view when God forgives us.  Jesus is speaking to those already saved, who have the nature of God.  Christ does not wait for me to forgive before He forgives me.  God takes the initiative.  He gave His Son to die, and it is on this basis alone that God forgives.

    Some church congregations use the word "debts" while others use "tresspasses."  It matters not which one is used for they both refer to the same thing: sin.  

    13: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen (6:13).  

    Here we see perhaps an improper translation of the original manuscript with the word "lead."  God does not tempt anyone, as James clearly teaches us.  God will not lead us into temptation but will lead us from out of temptation.  

    "Deliver us from evil" refers to that which Satan plans to unleash upon us.  I read just today online someone's opinion that Satan is a fairy tale which Christians believe in.  It is difficult to defend oneself against that which you do not believe exists.  You will continually be forced to come up with rationalizations for what is happening to you.  Any person who chooses to stand for God knows the terrible reality of Satan.  As we choose to work in any congregation, serving others with our talents, we become aware of the presence of not only God, but also that of Satan.  He is as a roaring lion, pacing to and fro over the entire earth, seeking whom to devour.  He wishes to devour Christians.  So in this prayer we are to ask God to deliver us from evil each day.  Pray for God to protect your mind and heart from the influences of Satan.  

    This is a very good prayer for new believers to pray as they begin their Christian journey.  It enables them to get their "feet wet."  From this basic prayer we are to begin branching out on our own to include specific items concerning just us.  We need to remember that it was given as a model, "After this manner."  

    So what every congregation needs is a great deal more private prayer, and then public prayer meetings may take place effectively.  Prayer always is between a person and God.

    That is all for today.  Next time I will cover some verses covering the meaning of fasting, making money, and the meaning of real riches.  Grace and peace be with you today!

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Jul 17th - 9:54AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     1: Take care that you don't do your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven (6:1).  

    This chapter of Matthew deals with the external portion of religion.  Chapter five spoke of the righteousness which God's subjects must possess.  This righteousness must come through trust in Christ.  Here in chapter six Matthew speaks to us about the righteousness that we are to practice.  Motive is the important thing in what we choose to do for God, no third parties can be involved.

    Christ speaks to us first, about alms.  He draws our attention to the externalities of religion, the ostentation in religion.

     2: Therefore when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.  Truly I say to you, They have their reward (6:2).  


    Although Jesus is directing His comments to the subjects of His coming kingdom on earth, they apply to all of us in general.  Christ is being rather sarcastic in this verse.  When the Pharisees wanted to give something to the poor, it was their custom to go down to a busy street corner in Jerusalem and blow a horn.  It served a double purpose.  First, to call the poor and needy together to receive gifts, but second, to alert everyone else to the opportunity to see their good works.  They wished to impress others with their "good works."  Christ says that that is the limit of their reward, just what they gain while here on earth.  They obviously sought to gain the admiration of other people with the amount of their giving.  Their giving was not between God and themselves.

    So why do I give?  Is it to allow others to see how faithful I feel I am?  Or is it to meet the needs of someone else?  Is it to assist the work of God in spreading His Word?  Is it to help put food on the table of the poor, to provide a place for children to spend the afternoons after school?  Is it to provide daycare for working parents?  Sports camps for youth during warm weather?  Fishing camps for kids and youths during the summer months?  To help rebuild homes damaged from severe weather events?  To help people recover/cope after natural disasters strike unexpectedly?  Or, do I give in a fashion so that I can gain the applause of my peers?  Again I say, giving is between you and God alone.

    Alms essentially is charity, it is to give money or food to relieve the needs of the poor or poverty stricken.  

     3: But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does:
     
     4: That your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in secret Himself shall reward you openly (6:3-4).  

    We are not to reach into our wallets with one hand and wave with the other hand to attract people's attention to our action.  There is to be no roll call of hundred dollar givers.  We are to give privately to supply the needs of others for then God will reward us openly afterwards.  

     5: And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men, Truly I say to you, They have their reward.
     
     6: But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly (6:5-6).  

    Jesus uses strong language here. Hypocrites.  Only praying in order that others will see and hear me doing so gains me only the immediate reward of their admiration.  Wearing special clothing items that signify that you are actively praying means exactly the same thing: making public your actions in order to gain status and fame.  But the prayers never get beyond the atmosphere of this planet, perhaps never get above the street lights on the street corners.  There is the proper time for corporate prayer but individuals are to do their praying in private, keeping it between themselves and God.

    Christ speaks to the citizens of the kingdom here.  "Father" is the term referring to God, which is in relation to the children of God who are brought into His family.  How do I become a child of God?  John 1:12 answers that question as does John 3:3.  Jesus spoke of the new relationship which was coming soon, between God and individuals.

    That is all for today in this study beloved.  I hope that each of you find your way to a worship service either this morning or this evening.  Bring your praises before God, thank God for providing you with the means for salvation, raise your voice to the heavens in heart-felt love, and drink in His message for you from out of the Word of God as presented to you in the sermon message.  

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Jul 16th - 10:31PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    In this nineteenth chapter of II Samuel we find that David becomes restored to the throne of Israel.  News of his son Absalom’s death was extremely grievous to David.  David may not have been sure of the salvation of Absalom and was grief-stricken on that account.  Recall that when David’s first son was stricken with illness and died that he acknowledged that he would not see his son again until he himself made it to heaven.  That verifies that David understood about salvation through faith in God.  But with Absalom there remained a great question as to whether or not he would be found one day in heaven.  There was also the matter of the father and son relationship.  David was a great king but a poor father to his children.  At this point in David’s life it would seem that the magnitude of his parenting failures were being comprehended by him.  

    David also was grieving since he realized that all of these troubles being experienced were the direct result of his own previous sin committed.  Such was the depth of David’s grief that finally Joab became disturbed enough to confront the king about it.

     1: And it was told to Joab, Behold, the king weeps and mourns for Absalom.
     
     2: And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard that day about how the king was grieved for his son.

     3: And the people stealthily got themselves into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle (19:1-3). 

    Instead of it being a great of celebration after a great military victory, it had become a bleak day of mourning over the death of Absalom.  It became a dark day of brooding since king David was so deep into weeping over the death of his beloved son.  The people of the nation responded to the grief of the king by grieving likewise.  

    David’s army ought to have been rejoicing over triumphing over a greater army.  Instead they left the victorious battlefield and returned to Jerusalem as if they had been the ones defeated in battle.  All because Absalom had been slain and that fact had broken the heart of David.

     4: But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! 

     5: And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, You have shamed this day the faces of all your servants, which this day have saved your life, and the lives of your sons and of your daughters, and the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines;

     6: In that you love your enemies, and hate your friends.  For you have declared this day, that you regard neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it would have pleased you well (19:5-6). 

    Joab is pushing this entire matter to the opposite end of the spectrum, but he is most certainly close to the truth.  David would probably have preferred any number of other people to have died rather than his son.  Joab rebukes the king here because the king has stolen away all of the glory that was obtained in the victory over the rebellious Absalom.  It is fairly certain that Absalom would have killed his father, given the chance.  

     7: Now therefore arise, go out, and speak comfortably unto your servants: for I swear by the LORD, if you go not out, there will not tarry one with you this night: and that will be worse unto you than all the evil that befell you from your youth until now (19:7). 

    Joab continues on and reminds David that he ought to now go out and speak gentle and proper words of encouragement to all of his servants.  He also points out that there is immense danger in not doing so, to the point that the amount of trouble that would result would be greater than all trouble he had experienced up to that point in his life!  

     8: Then the king arose, and sat in the gate.  And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king does sit in the gate.  And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every man to his tent (19:8). 

    The nation required some rallying point, something to focus upon other than the dismaying events which had led up to the rebellion and subsequent death of the king’s son.  David went up to the gate to provide some healing words for his people, to let them know his deep appreciation for their loyalty to him.

     9: And all the people were at strife thoughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.

    10: And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle.  Now therefore why speak you not a word of bringing the king back (19:9-10)? 

    There was significant confusion among the Israelites.  Some who had gone over to Absalom’s side during the rebellion now were lost, having nowhere to go since he was dead.  They did not know what to do.  The people had been fully expecting David to announce that he was once more the rightful king of Israel, his lack of doing so had created unrest throughout the kingdom.

    11: And king David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house?  Seeing the speech of all Israel is come to the king, even in his house (19:11). 

    David is finally taking notice of the state of affairs around him.  Even within his own tribe, even there, were the seeds and effects of the rebellion against him.  David rebuked the elders of his own tribe for their tardiness in calling for him to return as their anointed and rightful king.

    Beloved, today we must remain aware at all times of what goes on around us, even in the midst of grief over the death of loved ones.  To become blinded through grief is to fail to serve the needs of others who may depend us for direction and encouragement.

    Next time I shall continue covering David’s rebuke of the elders of Judah and the subsequent events that took place.

    Grace and peace be yours this day!

    ~Eric



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    Sat, Jul 16th - 7:12PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    33: Again, you have heard that it has been said by them of old time, You shall not forswear yourself, but shall perform unto the Lord your oaths:

    34: But I say to you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:

    35: Nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the holy city of the great King (5:33-35)."

    We are to be the kind of people who do not need to take any oaths of any kind.  We are to be people who can be taken at their word.  Mean what we say, say what we mean, and do not break our promises to others.  We are to be trustworthy people under all circumstances.

    36: Neither shall you swear by your head, because you can't make one hair white or black.

    37: But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these comes of evil(5:36-37).

    We can't swear by our own name for we do not control anything about ourselves.  And sad to say, usually when someone claims that they will swear upon a stack of Bibles it means that the lie will be just as tall as the stack.  We are told to keep our responses short, concise, and to the point.

    38: You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

    39: But I say unto you, That you resist not evil: but whosoever shall strike you on your right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also (5:38-39).

    It is no longer acceptable to exact revenge upon those who wrong you in the same measure as has been done to you.  The American legal system generally operates in this fashion as it enforces the laws of the land.  God expects believers to not retaliate.  Retaliation generally leads to an escalation of hostilities.  We are to keep in mind the principle presented to us in II Timothy 4:14 where Paul gave over judgment to God.  Today we do not live in the kingdom of heaven and so things are rather muddied and hazy in the zone of grey.

    40: And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.

    41: And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go two miles with him.

    42: Give to him that asks you, and don't turn away from him that would borrow from you (5:40-42).

    Today business can't be operated this way.  When Christ Jesus is on the throne down here on earth people will live this way.  But we are to strive to live this way as much as we possibly can. 

    Many congregations hear this Sermon on the Mount on Sunday morning and on Monday morning people become all business as usual, cold-blooded, and rational.  They won't loan money unless you have collateral.  That is the business world, and the financial world.

    Believers must strive to be humble, meek, and long suffering.  They are not to take offence quickly.  They are to perform works of charity and to follow the preaching of the Gospel.

    43: You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.

    44: But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (4-5:43-44).

    Here is how we are to relate to our enemies, to those who abuse us and use us.  We are to pray for their salvation and do good things for them.  We do not engage in getting even, or in passive aggressive behavior.  Even Christ refused to curse those who nailed Him on the cross, saying, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do."

    45: That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

    46: For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?

    47: And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?

    48: Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (5:45-48).

    Here is a defining passage speaking to everyone who repents of their sin and becomes reborn through Christ Jesus.  Every addict, every prostitute, every homosexual, every adulterer, every fornicator, every thief, every murderer, must strive to become perfect just as God in heaven is perfect.  It is the requirement of being a believer, I must become less and Christ must become more within me.  Was Christ Jesus homosexual, an addict, or a thief?  No, He was not.  So neither can we remain as such once we claim to have become Christians.  We must begin the process of renewing our minds through the washing of the Word of God daily.  It is part of the process by which all believers may become of one mind and achieve unity. 

    Do I mean that we are to try to be perfect by our own efforts?  No!  That path is doomed to failure every time.  We are to gain perfection through surrendering ourselves to the Holy Spirit who has come to reside within each of us upon our redemption from sin.  The Holy Spirit is the enabler, the One who teaches us all truth and gives us discernment. 

    That completes study of chapter five of Matthew.  Next time I shall begin the sixth chapter, which speaks about the relationship of the subjects of the kingdom of heaven to God.  See you right back here tomorrow!  Grace and peace to you!

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Jul 15th - 1:10PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "Three Guidelines for a Christian marriage"

    First of all, and foundational to a biblical understanding of marriage, is the truth that marriage is a permanent relationship.  In Mark 10:6-7, Jesus said, "From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife."  And then in verse nine we read, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

    A second biblical gideline is that marriage is a harmonious partnership.  The Bible speaks of the union of the husband and wife as harmonious.  Jesus said, "And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh (Mark 10:8)." 

    I have never known of a broken marriage where the husband and wife had enjoyed a true partnership that had been harmonious and mutually sacrificial.  But God established marriage to be just that, and His Word gives guidelines about how to keep harmony in the home.

    But there is a truth that is even greater than the truths that marriage is a permanent relationship and a harmonious partnership.  And that is the biblical teaching that marriage is a spiritual companionship.

    Christian marriage chould be a companionship where each helps the other to grow in Christ.  The Bible tells us that in the marriage relationship, the husband and wife become one.  It is my conviction that that speaks not only of a physical union, but of a spiritual union as well.

                                 ~George Sweeting

    27: You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:

    28: But I say to you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart (5:27-28).

    Here is a moral standard which virtually every man will violate at least once in his life, if not repeatedly on a weekly basis.  If you see a woman on a sunny beach someplace, walking along the water's edge in her tiny bikini, and you fantasize what it would be like to be in bed with her then you have lusted after her and you are guilty of adultery!  Watch one of those Victoria's Secret commercials and begin picturing in your mind's eye making love to her and you have already committed adultery!  It is one of the reasons why we must become modest people.  Temptations will come along anyways, why create even more stressful temptations which will eventually cause us to commit sin? 

    Jesus elevated the bar morally when He spoke these words on the Mount.  The Sermon on the Mount shows me that I have sinned and that I need to come to God for mercy and help.  And in today's liberal culture if a homosexual man looks lustfully upon another man then he has committed adultery in his heart; the same applies to women.  Outside of the fact that their homosexuality is sinful, this basic fact applies to everyone no matter how you wish to argue your position. 

    29: And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.

    30: And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell (5:29-30). 

    Do these two verses sound soft and compromising?  We are not to fool ourselves into thinking that we are keeping the Mosaic Law.  These two verses ought to drive all of us directly to the feet of Christ Jesus and beg: "O Lord, help me!"  I would point out that this seemingly applies to the Body of Christ as well.  If there is one among the congregation who refuses to change their behavior and become more like Christ, to become renewed through reading God's Word, then the time apparantly comes when the "body" must remove this "member" in order to not allow the entire group of believers to be dragged down and cast into hell.  This means that there must be some sort of correction done, rebuke must happen, and instruction given on how to change one's behavior from within one's heart.  The person's character needs to be changed so that their conduct becomes acceptable in the eyes of God.  This type of situation requires the congregation to get down on their knees in heartfelt prayer.  To learn more about prayer you could visit my other blog where I am posting about prayer.

    31: It has been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

    32: But I say to you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery (5:31-32). 

    The grounds for divorce from one's spouse are handed down here.  It is a very short list of reasons for divorcing anyone.  In God's eyes, getting divorced for reasons other than for fornication means that you are committing adultery.  Obviously adultery has a variety of nuances to it which allows it to be applied to wide swaths of one's life.  To go and chase after some other religion means that you are committing "spiritual" adultery against God.  For a congregation of believers to all go and start teaching others that Jesus is not Divine but only an angel is to also commit adultery against God.  Adultery is not simply a physical, sexual act done in contrariness to your marriage pact.  So, Christians today need to stop and really think hard about what they are actually doing before convincing themselves that they can divorce their spouse for not being compatible, or for not earning enough money.  If we are unprepared to remain faithful to our marriage vows, then we ought not even make them to begin with.  We should then remain single, and remain celibate; we should then devote our energy and lives to the service of God.

    That is all for this day, beloved.  May the Son shine brightly down upon you, may the Holy Spirit give you comprehension of what you read in God's Word, may your prayers be answered exactly as you ask them.  Grace and peace be with you.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Jul 8th - 1:54PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    I am back from Annual Conference!!  It was an awesome time of worship, bible study, prayer, and taking care of denominational business issues.  Now, let us dive back into our study of the Book of Matthew!

    18: For truly I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    19: Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (5:18-19).  

    Be not deceived, we are not free to break the Mosaic Law.  The Law remains our standard by which to measure ourselves, as it is the standard by which any lost sinner is able to determine their standing before Almighty God.  The Law reveals that none of us are able to measure up based upon our own efforts.  This revelation then drives us to the cross of Christ Jesus.  The only Way to fulfill the Law is by accepting the only One who could fulfill it---Jesus Christ.

    Any believer who breaks any of the least of commandments and teaches others to do so, they shall end up becoming the very least in the kingdom of heaven.  They shall not lose their salvation, but they shall not receive any of the rewards which God may have had ready to offer to them beyond that of salvation.  To keep any of the commandments of God, Old and New Testament, requires us to come to Christ Jesus for personal salvation, power, and strength.  I would point out that here is a basic area of weakness in the arguments of those sisters and brothers arguing for complete inclusion of homosexuals into the body of Christ.  They are free to choose to believe that these people must be allowed to remain homosexual and become pastors and leaders within the church, but IF they are wrong then they will automatically become the least among all who enter into heaven.  This same standard is applied to all who have accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  We therefore need to stop arguing with each other and simply reach the understanding that we must make very, very, sure that we are accurately discerning God's Word on all of these many social issues that become laid at our feet.

    20: For I say unto you, That except your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (5:20).  

    This verse speaks to all those people who claim we must live our lives by obeying the Ten Commandments.  The Pharisees had an extremely high degree of righteousness according to the Law, but it was not acceptable to God.  Therefore, if we do not achieve an even higher degree of righteousness today it remains unacceptable to God and we will not enter heaven for we will not have gained salvation by obeying the Law in all of its points.  So once again we are being driven to consider the cross of Christ; only through the righteousness of Christ Jesus may we enter into heaven.  

    21: You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    22: But I say to you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (5:21-22). 

    Christ Jesus elevated the bar by which we are evaluated. Do any of us honestly believe in our hearts that we are able to meet these demands?  Of course not, and this is precisely why we must have Christ in order to ask forgiveness of our shortcomings in all of these areas of life.   But, and read this carefully, in order to have Christ one must admit that they are a sinner who is unable to pay the debt owed by being a sinner: death.  One must admit that Christ had to come from heaven down to this earth in order to live a sinless life, offer Himself up through death to pay our debt, and then resurrect Himself from the grave in order to assure each of us that we can be born again into newness of life.  Accept these things and then one has access to forgiveness from the Father whenever we stumble and fall short of the glory of God.  

    Salvation and assurance of entering heaven does not come from obeying the Mosaic Law.  Assurance of entering heaven does not come from using the Sermon of the Mount as your guide to living your daily life.  Salvation must first come to you by accepting your sinful position in relation to God and to then accept God's freely given gift of grace in the cross of Christ.

    It is no longer enough to simply refrain from physically killing someone.  A person must also repent of being wrathful with someone without any reason for being so.  There are people who fly into fits of rage over being cut off out on the highways.  That is a sin.  Or perhaps someone gets a promotion ahead of you and you then become enraged at the indignity of it all and impulsively think dire thoughts of getting even with them.  Christ says to us here that when we allow ourselves to become enslaved by our emotions to the point of being out of control, then we are in danger of coming under judgment ourselves just as if we had already killed that person.  

    23: Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you;

    24: Leave your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to  your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

    25: Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.

    26: Truly I say unto you, You shall by no means come out from there, until you have paid the uttermost farthing(5:23-26). 

    Jesus lays out for us what we must do before trying to bring our offerings before God, if we know that there are one or more people who legitimately have a grudge with us.  We must go and become reconciled with them.  If they refuse to accept our reconciliation, that is their issue and not ours.  If we beg them to forgive us and they refuse, again, that is their issue with God and not ours any longer.  We have gone, we have asked to be forgiven of what we have done to them.  This can also be extended to where we go and ask a person to forgive us for something which they believe we have done to them, even if in truth we have done nothing at all.  We are still to go and attempt at reconciliation, to ask them to forgive us.  Doing this allows us to then present our offerings to God in good conscience.  If we know that we have done wrong to someone we are told in this passage to quickly rectify the wrong while we are still out of prison and walking the streets as free people.  We are not to wait until we have been legally dragged into a courtroom, it will be too late for us then to plead with the judge.

    That is all for today in this study beloved!  It is good to be back home and able to post to this blog once again.  I hope that this commentary will be of good use to you.  Grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric



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    About Me

    Name: Eric Rajaniemi
    ChristiansUnite ID: ejroyal
    Member Since: 2007-09-08
    Location: Bedford, Virginia, United States
    Denomination: Born-again, Church of the Brethren
    About Me: I refrain from any denomination as much as possible since my faith has to do with Jesus Christ and not denominations. My wife and I are charter members of Lake Side Church of the Brethren for they desire to follow the New Testament precepts. We hav... more

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