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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
          Have you always had questions about different passages and books of the bible? Me too. Let's explore everything together and find out what God's Word actually says. Are you ready for a life-changing experience? Are you? Then come on!
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    Wed, Jun 29th - 9:17PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



     4: And the king said unto them, What seems best to you I will do.  And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.
     
     5: And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom.  And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom (18:4-5).

    This is a very sad chapter in king David's life.  Perhaps the saddest.  It is sad for it records the death of his son, Absalom.  David's army marches out under the direction of three leaders: Joab, Abishai, and Ittai.  David has publicly charged each to deal gently with Absalom.  I am sure each of these men felt in their hearts that it would be best for everyone if Absalom were simply killed rather than brought back in captivity.  But their king has given them strict orders in this matter.  

     6: So the people went out into the field against Israel:  and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;

     7: Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men.

     8: For the battle was scattered over the face of all the country:  and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured (18:6-8).  

    It was a civil war.  It was brother fighting against brother, cousin against cousin.  The strategic ability of David is evident here in that he chose such a place in which to engage Absalom's army.  Obviously God chose to enter into this battle upon David's side and that that is why the wood devoured more soldiers than swords actually did.  It takes nothing away from the ability of his three captains for they had the smaller of the two armies.  Absalom's troops became trapped and entangled within the woods of Ephraim.  It became a part of David's army and assisted in the demise of twenty thousand men.  Absalom and his advisers had chosen the wrong place to fight David and his men.

     9: And Absalom met the servants of David.  And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him continued on.

    10: And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak tree.

    11: And Joab said to the man that told him this, And, behold, you saw him, and why did you not strike him there to the ground?  and I would have given you ten shekels of silver, and a girdle (18:9-11).  

    What an unfortunate set of circumstances for Absalom!  Taking off through the woods his head gets snagged in an oak tree's great branch and is suspended up in the air, just hanging there.  What was Joab's reaction?  Why didn't you strike the man down, why didn't you kill him?  Obviously Joab had placed a bounty upon Absalom's head.  But what was the other man's reaction to this declaration?

    12: And the man said to Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet I would not put out my hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.

    13: Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against my own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and you yourself would have set yourself against me (18:12-13).  

    This soldier was loyal to the king.  He had heard the charge given to the captains and he was not about to disobey his king, not for any amount of money.  And he pointed out that Joab would have been set dead against him if he had disobeyed the king.  Joab would have had to kill him for disobeying David's charge.  But Joab realizes that he does not have the luxury of time to deal with this man, so he dismisses him.

    14: Then said Joab, I may not tarry here with you.  And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak tree.

    15: And ten young men that bore Joab's armor compassed about and struck Absalom, and killed him.

    16: And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people.

    17: And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the woods, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent (18:14-17).  

    Joab had decided that Absalom was not to survive this battle and went and ran him through with three darts.  Then ten of his personal guards came and slaughtered Absalom, something I feel was uncalled for.  Why did Joab disobey his king?  Weariness from having to deal endlessly with Absalom over the years?  Understanding that with Absalom dead the rebellion was effectively over?  Not trusting David would deal harshly enough with his rebellious son?  

    18: Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place.

    19: Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the LORD has avenged him of his enemies.

    20: And Joab said to him, You shall not bear tidings this day, but you shall bear tidings another day: but this day you shall bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead.

    21: Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what you have seen.  And Cushi bowed himself to Joab, and ran.

    22: Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray you, also run after Cushi.  And Joab said, Why will you run, my son, seeing that you have no tidings ready (18:18-22).  

    Joab is buying time, stalling until he can gather and put together all the necessary information to give to the king.  

    23: But nevertheless, said he, let me run.  And he said to him, Run.  Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.

    24: And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate to the wall, and lifted up his gaze, and looked, and behold a man running alone.

    25: And the watchman cried, and told the king.  And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth.  And he came apace, and drew near.

    26: And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called to the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone.  And the king said, he also brings tidings.

    27: And the watchman said, Me thinks the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.  And the king said, He is a good man, and comes with good tidings.

    28: And Ahimaaz called, and said to the king, All is well.  And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD your God, which has delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.

    29: And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe?  And Aimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was (18:23-29).

    David's been waiting to hear word of how the battle went, and he has done so out by the gate.  Ahimaaz can't give the king an accurate answer to his question since he did not know what had happened to Absalom.  He said that all was well, the king's enemies had been vanquished in battle.  Too many of God's messengers today are running swiftly to tell us that God says all is well, when all is not well.  Man is a sinner.  Man needs a Savior.  Man needs to know that Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for him.  Man needs to be reborn spiritually.  Just as Ahimaaz did not have all of the facts, there are many pastors who do not have all of the facts and give out an inaccurate message to the people.

    30: And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.

    31: And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD has avenged you this day of all them that rose up against you.

    32: And the king said to Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe?  and Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against you to do you hurt, be as that young man is.

    33: And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son (18:30-33)!  

    Cushi had the correct and accurate information.  He tells the king that Absalom is dead.  King David is wracked with grief over the demise of his son.  He weeps over his son's death, acceding that he ought to have died instead of Absalom.  Perhaps David realized that he should have been willing to sacrifice himself for his son's sake much earlier in the young man's life, that it might have allowed for the son to have turned out much better.

    Sometimes messengers do not give the accurate and full message for fear of offending the recipient of their message.  Or to avoid being held accountable for the content of the message.  Christians can't be afraid of the consequences of delivering God's message to people, they must simply deliver it accurately and in loving compassion for the listeners.  

    That finishes up chapter 18 of II Samuel in this study.  Tomorrow I will begin the next chapter in which Joab finds himself in the position of having to reprove the king.  How long would God continue to judge David?  We shall find out soon.  May the grace of Christ allow you to extend mercy and forgiveness to those who treat you harshly, unfairly, abusively.  Forgive others in order that God may forgive you.  We are all sinners in need of forgiveness, are we not?  God forgave us before we ever thought of asking Him to do so.  So too ought we to extend forgiveness to others even before they ever think of asking us to forgive them.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Jun 24th - 6:27PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    11:Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.

     12: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (5:11-12).

    We find here assurance given to those who suffer persecution because they claim fellowship with Jesus Christ.  They are to be exceedinly glad for great reward awaits them in heaven.  They are to also take heart in that they suffer nothing less than what the prophets of old experienced in preaching God's Word to the unbelievers.

    13: You are the salt of the earth:  but if the salt has lost its savor, how will it be salted?  it is thereafter good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

    14: You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill can not be hid (5:13-14). 

    God's children of faith in any age and under any conditions are both salt and light in our world.  The problem that we have today is that too many church members have not only lost their saltiness but have also allowed their "light" to go out.  Salt does not stop decay, it slows it way down.  That is why you and I have to be the spiritual salt in the world, to slow down the spiritual decay that is underway all around us.  We are to be the influence for good in our world.

    Believers are to also be light.  During the Millennium Christ Jesus will be here and will provide light to the rest of the world.  Upon ushering in the new heavens and earth Jesus will become the sole Light of the world.  Until that time comes, believers are to be reflecting Christ's light out into the world around us.  We need to therefore be the light in our families, our neighborhoods, our towns, our workplaces, and everywhere else that we may be.  The Word of God is light and we need to be giving it out freely to whomever will listen.  It does not mean that we are to be quoting scripture all of the time, but we are to share the light that we do have.  Perhaps we can give away a CD with Christian music?

    15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house.

    16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (5:15-16).

    One error that is made today is to believe that this Sermon on the Mount is man-centered.  Obviously it is quite God-centered.  Upon seeing our good works others are supposed to give God the glory, not us.  This points forward in time to when Jesus is back on earth and everything which is done and said will glorify God, it will be God-centered.  So right now our motivation must be to bring glory to God.  Our aim and purpose in life is to be to glorify God the Father.

    Now we come to a passage which addresses the relationship of the kingdom's subjects to the Law.

    17: Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:  I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (5:17). 

    Jesus did not come in order to destroy His Law given out to Moses.  He came to fulfill the ceremonial part of the Mosaic Law.  He came to be the Sacrifice, as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.  He was able to keep the divine standards found in the Law and now He is able to give us His righteousness.  God's standard's have not changed, but you and I have through our redemption in Christ.  We needed help; we needed a Savior.  We needed mercy and we received mercy when we came to Christ.

    That is all for today my friends.  Come back again as we continue studying Matthew!

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Jun 23rd - 7:36PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     8: Blessed are the pure in heart:  for they shall see God (5:8). 

    How many of us can honestly say that our hearts are pure?  We do know that the heart is desperately wicked and that no man can know it.  How can we clean it up?  "Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you (John 15:3)."  It is by the washing of the Word of God, through this mode of regeneration, that we are made clean.  Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from all sin (I John 1:7).

     9: Blessed are the peacemakers:  for they shall be called the children of God (5:9).

    Within my own Brethren denomination there is a battle raging over pacifism versus patriotism.  The true battleground is over this verse right here, they simply have lost sight of the truth.  To be considered in God's eyes as a child of God we must be peacemakers and not peacebreakers.  We are incapable of creating peace on our own efforts for we continually screw it up.  Christ Jesus is the only one who can create peace and reconciliation between people.  Christ made peace by His blood between a righteous God and unrighteous sinners.  We have peace with God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

    10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake:  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (5:10). 

    Application of this verse in today's world is easy to see.  Application to the faithful remnant of Israel during the Great Tribulation to come is also easy to see.  Can it be applied to the kingdom which will be established here on earth?  Many scriptures show us that during the millennial kingdom there will still be evil here on earth but that it will be suppressed by the very presence of Jesus Christ, only to be allowed to show itself in open rebellion at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:7-9). 

    God's Word plainly teaches that all who accept Christ as their Lord and Savior and preach the gospel message to the lost people of this world will experience persecution and trials and tribulations.  To them is the kingdom of heaven given.

    I will stop right here for now.  Peace be with you this night.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Jun 23rd - 12:24PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



        15: Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and thus have I counselled.
       16: Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means pass over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are with him.
       17: Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying by En-rogel; and a maid-servant used to go and tell them; and they went and told king David: for they might not be seen to come into the city.
       18: But a lad saw them, and told Absalom: and they went both of them away quickly, and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his court; and they went down into it.
       19: And the woman took and spread the covering over the well's mouth, and strewed bruised grain thereon; and nothing was known.
       20: And Absalom's servants came to the woman of the house; and they said, Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They are gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
       21: And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David; and they said unto David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water; for thus has Ahithophel counselled against you.
       22: Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over the Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over the Jordan.
       23: And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and got himself home, unto his city, and set his house in order, and hanged himself; and he died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father (17:15-23). 

    Some deception was required in order to allow king David to escape the clutches of Absalom.  Poor Ahithophel couldn't stand not being taken at his oracular word and so went to his home city and hung himself.  It was a matter of dignity, of pride, and not being heeded implied failure on his part as the king's advisor.  I must say that it was a rather radical response to not being listened to.  At any rate, we see that Hushai's advice was accepted and that allowed David and his faithful followers to escape over the Jordan River to safety.  Misdirection was the key to giving sufficient time for escape.  Absalom spent valuable time gathering together all of the fighting men of Israel and allowed his father to therefore get away and buy time to become better organized for the coming battle.

      24: Then David came to Mahanaim.  And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with Him.

      25: And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab:  which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother.

      26: So Israel and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead (17:24-26). 

    David has plenty of experience running away from pursuit, although this time the pursuit is as a result of his own personal sinning.  David is not in a very good position.  He fled Jerusalem without any preparation whatsoever.  What is he to do?  How can he meet the physical needs of his loyal followers?

      27: And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim,

      28: Brought beds, and basins, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentils, and parched pulse,

      29: And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese from cows, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat:  for they said, The people are hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness (17:27-29). 

    God provides!  David discovered that he still had allies out amongst the nation of Israelites.  Obviously these leaders of this region had measured Absalom's abilities and concluded that he would not make for a very good king.  So they threw their support behind David.  They knew what sort of man he had been while upon the throne.  David was not one to deal with the people deceitfully, he was dependable while Absalom had shone that he was deceitful and trickly, not someone who would be dependable while upon the throne. 

    So Absalom's delay due to listening to Hushai's advice allows David to refresh himself and his followers, they were able to become rested up.  Let's see what transpires next, shall we?

       1: And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.

       2: And David sent out a third of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite.  And the king said to the people, I will surely go out with you myself too (17:1-2). 

    David organized his soldiers, established the chain of command, and then informed all of them that he would also go out into battle with them all.  There would be no hanging back from this confrontation with Absalom.  David perhaps had learned his lesson about staying home near the womenfolk while the remainder of the army went out to battle on his behalf. 

       3: But the people answered, You shall not go out:  for if we run away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us:  but you are worth ten thousand of us:  therefore it is better that you now succor us from out of the city (17:3). 

    Now that David desires to go out into battle the soldiers express their desire that he remain inside of the city and give them moral support from there in safety. 

    That is all for this day my friends.  I shall pick up this account of the battle between David and Absalom next time.  Grace be with you.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Jun 21st - 6:40PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     4: Blessed are they that mourn:  for they shall be comforted.
     5: Blessed are the meek:  for they shall inherit the earth (5:4-5).

    What is interesting is that the Beatitudes can be found in various places in the Bible.  The poor in spirit are spoken of in Zephaniah 3:12, those who mourn and are comforted comes from chapter seven.  The meek being blessed comes from Psalm 37:11.  As we all are amply aware, the meek are not inheriting the earth in our day.  So apparently the Sermon on the Mount is not in effect today.  But the day is approaching when the meek will indeed inherit the entire world.

    An obvious question is:  How does one become meek?  Jesus Christ was meek, and He will inherit all things; we are the heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.  We are also told in Scripture that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, temperance, and meekness.  It requires God's Spirit to be within you in order to become a meek person.  If we were able to become meek through our own efforts we would be tempted to become proud of the fact.  As soon as that feeling comes over us we are no longer being meek.  Only the Holy Spirit can produce meekness in our hearts, and that only when we are yielded to Him.  The dedicated Christian can read these verses and see the rewards of meekness are still in the future.

    These Beatitudes present to us goals which we ought to want to have in our own lives.  We just can't do it on our own.  These goals of Christian living require us to submit ourselves to the leading of God's Spirit within us. 

     6: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled (5:6).

    Do all of the "natural" men and women hunger and thirst for righteousness? Of course not!  To these people it appears to be foolishness and insanity. Since these people are spiritually blind they can't discern righteousness, I Corinthians 2:14 speaks a little bit about this.  I Corinthians 1:30 contrasts the natural man with the spiritual man for us, helping us to understand this concept a little better.  
    Hungering and thirsting for righteousness will lead ultimately to becoming filled with God's Spirit and thus with His righteousness.

     7: Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy (5:7).  

    Here is a verse that is misunderstood and misapplied in today's society.  In order for us to obtain mercy we must first be mercy-givers.  Titus 3:5 talks about the fact that we obtain mercy from God according to His plan.  We ought to be merciful because we have gotten mercy from God.  I Peter 2:9-10 says:  "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:  Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:  which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."  God says that once we too were in need of mercy for we lived in spiritual darkness away from God.  God in His infinite mercy withheld the death penalty long enough for us to repent and accept Christ as ours.  Thus we must not withhold mercy from other people who need it from us for God did not withhold His mercy from us in our time of need.  

    That is all for tonight beloved since heavy thunderstorms are approaching.  Return in two days for a continuation of this study.  Grace and peace, joy and love, be yours this very day!

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Jun 18th - 12:07PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    The Sermon on the Mount does contain some high ethical standards and practices which are becoming more and more contrary with today's society.  It expresses the mind of Christ which ought to be the mind of the believer.  The principles laid down here are worth being studied and learned, but they can't be attained if the believer only relies upon his/her own abilities.  The believer must go elsewhere to look for the power.  It is like having a light bulb but no power.  Without the power the bulb will not produce any light.  

    The primary purpose of the Sermon on the Mount is to present to men the law of the kingdom of God.  The King has come to present Himself, called out disciples to follow Him, and enunciates the law of the kingdom.  It will also be the law of the Millennium when He rules the entire world and thereafter it will be the law for all of eternity.  The Christian who calls Jesus Christ Lord will actively seek to do what Jesus commands.  But obedience only comes in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We can't force the Sermon on the Mount upon a rebellious world.  Only the gospel of the grace of God can make men obedient to Christ, and that is why it was given to mankind.

    This sermon needs to be preached in order to bring conviction to the hearts of sinful people.  It lets people know that they are sinning, and it reveals that none are righteous and all have come short of God's glory.

    If it was impossible to attain justification through obeying the Mosaic Law, it was even more impossible to attain it by meeting the standard of the Sermon on the Mount.  The one element in this Sermon that snares virtually every man is this verse: "Whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart."  This verse also applies to many a young woman these days who is simply looking for sexual partners as she walks about in daily life.  Lust of the eyes is equated to having committed the adultery already.  The physical act is simply a conclusion of the act already begun in your heart.  Can you say honestly that you have never done this to a member of the opposite sex?  I am guilty, and I am forced to ask Christ to forgive me for my weakness.

    The question arises over whether this is the complete Sermon given by Christ.  Probably not.  I would imagine that there were more things which He said to that small crowd gathered around Him, but God deemed them unimportant to pass on to us.  We can then divide up this section of scripture into four broad areas:

    1)   Relationship of the subjects of the kingdom to self (Matthew 5:1-16)
    2)   Relationship of the subjects of the kingdom to law (Matthew 5:17-48).
    3)   Relationship of the subjects of the kingdom to God (Matthew 6).
    4)   Relationship of the subjects of the kingdom to others (Matthew 7).

    To whom did Jesus give the Sermon on the Mount?  He intended it for His disciples who were close to Him on the mountain.  All of this is for the believer in Christ, not the unbeliever who misunderstands much of what comprises the Sermon.

     1: And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain:  and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him:
     2: And he spoke, and taught them, saying.
     3: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (5:1-3).

    The multitudes of people lower down the mountain side probably were able to overhear much of what Jesus said to His disciples and so they indirectly received this Sermon.  People need today to come to Christ.  While the kingdom is not instituted yet, this present day is a time where the seed is being sown, and that seed is the Word of God.  The believer's purpose is to sow the seed for the day is coming when Christ will come and establish His kingdom upon this earth.

    We are told that the poor in spirit are blessed, it does not instruct us on becoming poor in spirit.  Only the Holy Spirit of God can reveal to us the poverty of our own spirit.  This then leads us onward to accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior in order to meet the need of our impoverished spirit.  We may be poor in spirit but we end up with spiritual riches which are priceless.

    That is all for today beloved.  Tomorrow I plan on covering several more verses that present what are commonly called the Beatitudes.  See you then!  Grace and peace be with you.

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Jun 16th - 1:33PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



     1: Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:

     2: And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid:  and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will strike the king only (17:1-2). 

    Here we read of Ahithophel's counsel to Absalom.  He wishes to go immediately and run down David before he is able to gather his forces and organize them at all.  It is a very well conceived plan.  The plan was to separate David from the other civilians so that they would not be killed and it is commendable in this.  The problem still remains that he is going against the anointed king of Israel, God's chosen man to lead the nation. 

     3: And I will bring back all the people to you:  the man whom you seeks is as if all returned:  so all the people shall be in peace.

     4: And the saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel.

     5: Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he has to say.

     6: And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spoke to him, saying, Ahithophel has spoken after this manner:  shall we do after his saying?  if not; speak you now.

     7: And Hushai said to Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good at this time.

     8: For, said Hushai, you know your father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and your father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.

     9: Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever hears it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom.

    10: And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are valiant men (17:3-10). 

    David could have been destroyed if the counsel of Ahithophel was followed.  But Hushai's counsel points out that one can't ignore the proven fact that David and his men are mighty men of war, proven in many battles.  Hushai's advice favors David without a doubt, but it is still pragmatic advice which is good for Absalom.  Don't go charging into a battle hastily against an enemy who is very skilled, and experienced, in warfare.  Just as a wounded bear is a very, very dangerous animal to deal with, so too is David and his mighty men of war.  Has David been hounded and pursued in the past?  Yes, he was pursued by king Saul for several years.  To foolishly go charging into the people who went with David and find that he was not there would likely lead to rumors of how Absalom couldn't capture David and was losing grip on the throne.  Isn't that how politics often plays itself out today? 

    Now Hushai provides an alternate strategy to that of Ahithophel:

    11: Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally gathered to you, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that you go to battle in your own person.

    12: So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falls on the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one (17:11-12). 

    Hushai lays out a plan that is set in kingly tradition:  gather all of the troops and let the king lead them out into battle.  That way all of the people will see who is their leader.  Hushai maps out how they will attain complete and utter victory over David and his mighty men of war.  Sounds logical doesn't it?  Call up all of the soldiers, prepare, and then march out for the kill.  What is expected of the king?  To go out into battle leading the Israeli soldiers.  Was Absalom prepared to do that right now?  No, he was not.  Hushai's advice was sound, but it played upon Absalom's knowledge of his father's military history.  He placed enough doubt into Absalom's mind to cause hesitation to act quickly.  That was enough space, and enough time, for David to gather himself and his men and be prepared to fight.    So, what was the new king's choice going to end up being?

    13: If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.

    14: And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.  For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom (17:13-14).

    Very convincing argument to conclude Hushai's counsel.  Absalom and everyone else believes that his counsel is the better one of the two.  What we believers today must take away from this account is this:  If we make bad choices, commiting sin, we are to expect God to correct us.  God will discipline us by taking away some things from us, by forcing us out of our comfort zone, and by placing us in some physical, emotional, mental, distress.  He does so in order to get our attention and to get us to realize, and admit, that we were wrong in those bad choices.  Once we repent of thoughs, words, and deeds, then God will provide us with the means to be restored to His favor and regain what we have lost.  Not all pain and suffering is because of this sort of situation mind you.  This is what happens to those who have chosen to believe in Jesus Christ and THEN they dally in sinful things and pander to their lusts.  There is a price to pay for sin, even for believers. 

    That is all for today beloved.  Come on back as next time I shall cover scripture which recounts the events which followed this counsel meeting.  May Christ's grace and love go with you always!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Jun 14th - 10:05PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    17: From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent:  for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (4:17).  

    God's message remained unchanged:  Turn back, come to Me, the kingdom is now here!  It wasn't physically being implemented, it had arrived in the person of Jesus, the King.  As has previously been noted, the kingdom of heaven is the reign of the heavens over the entire earth.  God's will is to be done here on earth exactly as it has been done in heaven all along.  The church of believers has a heavenly hope, but the earthly hope is also a marvelous one for it is the hope of the Old Testament.

    18: And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea:  for they were fishermen.
    19: And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (4:18-19). 

    Here we have the call of God.  Up to this time in history man attempted to seek out and approach God on God's terms.  But now we find God doing the seeking out of men.  God was moving, He saw two men of whom He had been seeking, and He called out to them.  "Follow Me" was the call, very simple but very powerful for it left little room for negotiations.  These two men obviously would be naturally curious about how they could catch men like they caught fish.  

    This is an important moment for it reveals God's intent.  He does not intend to change the world through calling the educated, the influential, the rich, the powerful, or the famous.  God intends to change our world through those people who normally are overlooked, shunned, mocked, or generally made fun of.  God does not call the perfect people of this world.  God uses the imperfect people, the brokenhearted people, the poor, the rejected people of this world.  Whatever business you happen to be in, God will make you a fisher of men.  Whatever your talents may be, God will use them to fulfill His plans for you.  Guided by His Holy Spirit we will not all do the exact same thing.  The body of Christ has very many members in it, and they all have different functions to perform.

    20: And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.
    21: And going on from there, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
    22: And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him (4:20-22).  

    Jesus Christ called them and they immediately left what they were doing and followed after Him.  They heard the call and they responded immediately, there was no hesitation on their part.  Now there are three walking down the beach and they find James and John of Zebedee, more fishermen.  Jesus calls out to them to follow Him and they do, immediately.  Notice how quick the response is?  They didn't tell Jesus they would think about it and get back to Him in a few days or weeks.  They dropped what they were doing for work and followed after Him.  They recognized the power of the call to come to God.  

    23: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people (4:23).  

    It is important to recognize that Jesus went to where God's Word was supposed to be taught: the synagogues.  He taught and preached the gospel of the kingdom.  What was this gospel?  That the kingdom was at hand in the person of the King.  The people were to accept and receive Him.  At the same time Jesus is healing people all over Galilee of physical illness and disease.  Untold numbers of people received miraculous healing and this is why His critics never contested the miracles.  They couldn't for too many people had witnessed them first hand or had experienced the healing personally.  

    24: And His fame went throughout all Syria:  and they brought to Him all sick people that were taken with diverse diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them all (4:24).  

    Multitudes of people were healed by Jesus Christ, not just a handful here or there.  Mental illnesses, diseases, demonic possessed, all were healed and made whole once more.  His reputation preceded Him wherever He went in that region.  

    25: And great multitudes of people from Galilee followed Him, and people from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond the Jordan River (4:25).

    Decapolis was a region containing ten cities, located in the northeastern part of Galilee east of the Jordan River.  People came from the regions south of Jerusalem (Judaea).  Jesus is ministering in the northern part of Palestine and yet people are coming from all over the region to hear Him and to be healed.

    Keep in mind that Matthew is not attempting to give an accurate chronological accounting of the life of Christ Jesus.  That is not the task given to him by God to do here.  Matthew is presenting Jesus in this gospel as the King, and he follows a pattern which brings the King and His claims to the nation of Israel.  This is important to know otherwise we may totally miss the purpose of this gospel.

    That completes study of chapter four.  Next time I shall begin the fifth chapter of Matthew in which we shall discover the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.  This discourse deals with the relationship of the subjects of the kingdom of heaven to self and to law.  

    It can be said that the Sermon on the Mount is the manifesto of the King.  This Sermon is contained within chapters 5-7 of Matthew with excerpts of it found in the other gospels as well.  Do we have the entire Sermon on the Mount?  I doubt that we do.  We have that which God has decided we need to have in order to understand what He wishes us to do.  

    One thing which we must keep in mind is that the terms "far right" and "far left" are not limited to just politics.  Among theologians we also have to deal with the left and the right.  The liberal theologian treats this Sermon as the gospel, the Good News.  He will act as if this is the only important part of all Scripture.  He may even go further and claim that all that is needed is the Golden Rule found in 7:12.  To believe that Christian life may be boiled down into just one verse is unrealistic and deceptive.  Three chapters are devoted to this Sermon, are you and I living it out in our daily lives?  This is what is really important today, are we living examples of what Jesus Christ taught and preached?

    What the liberal theologian neglects is that within the Sermon on the Mount there is absolutely no mention of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.  There is no mention of blood having to be spilled in order to forgive sins.  Thus the liberal believer is able to "sanitize" their faith and remove the distasteful parts of the gospel which simply must be a mistake on some copyist's part.  Paul made it very clear what the gospel actually is.  "...that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He arose again the third day according to the scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3-4).  The gospel is not to be found in the Sermon on the Mount, and that is why so many people today want to claim that as their religion.  

    The problem which these people become faced with is that if this Sermon is God's standard and they fall short of it, what do they do then?  Who is there who can save you from the condemnation of failing to achieve the standard?  Who is there out there who can extend mercy to you?  Who do you have to stand up for you, to advocate on your behalf?  No one at all.  It is why we all need to have Jesus Christ's blood.  Attempting reduce the Christian gospel to just the Sermon on the Mount is simplicity itself, something which the scriptures as a whole do not permit.  

    Now we consider the right hand view.  These are the people who treat the Sermon on the Mount as if it were the bubonic plague.  They do not want to have anything to do with it, they do not wish to touch it in any shape or form.  This group of people tend to be hyperdispensationalists.  They maintain that we can't use the Sermon on the Mount at all.  

    It is true that this Sermon is the Law elevated to the nth degree.  Man can't keep the Law from the Old Testament, how then can man keep this Sermon?  He can't.  It is also true that the method of operation for Christian living is not actually found in the Sermon on the Mount.  Living by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit is simply not one of the truths taught in the Sermon.  Romans 8:3-4 teaches us the limitation of the Law and how the Law's righteousness might be fulfilled in each of us.  
    That is all for tonight my friends.  I will continue with this introductory material before diving into chapter five next time.  Until then, God willing, may you have the Son shine warmly down upon you, have His love shine down upon you and then that love be reflected back out into the world around you.

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Jun 14th - 12:54PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "To label people as worthy and unworthy, as good and bad, as acceptable and repulsive, is contrary to God's law and thoroughly anti-Christian."

                   ~George Sweeting  

        12: It may be that Jehovah will look on the wrong done unto me, and that Jehovah will requite me good for his cursing of me this day.
       13: So David and his men went by the way; and Shimei went along on the hill-side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.
       14: And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary; and he refreshed himself there (16:12-14).

    King David evidently had placed his future fortunes squarely upon God.  He was not worrying excessively about this man cursing him, whether the cursing was earned or not; David simply wished to get right with God again, if at all possible.

    Now we return to Jerusalem, it is one of those "meanwhile back at the ranch" moments.

       15: And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.

       16: And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, was come to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.

       17: And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this your kindness to your friend?  why didn't you go with your friend (16:15-17)?"

    Absalom is taken by surprise that his father's good friend hadn't gone with him into exile.

       18: And Hushai said to Absalom, No; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I remain.

       19: And again, whom should I serve?  should I not serve in the presence of his son?  as I have served in your father's presence, so will I be in your presence (16:18-19).

    Hushai is speaking to convince Absalom of his sincerity.  It does sound plausible, doesn't it?  Now observe Absalom's actions upon reaching the palace.

       20: Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give me counsel from among you as to what we shall do.

       21: And Ahithophel said to Absalom, Go in to your father's concubines, which he has left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that you are abhorred of your father:  then shall the hands of all that are with you be strong.

       22: So they spread Absalom a tent on the top of the house; and Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel (16:20-22).

    Ahithophel advises him to commit a coarse and crude act, one which would declare that David's righs had effectively ended and that everything he had owned now belonged to the son, Absalom.  This was very significant for Israel.

       23: And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God:  so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom (16:23). 

    Can you picture this?  This man's counsel was accepted at face value just as if God Himself had spoken it.  There was no questioning of it, no argument made against it.  No one appeared to even marvel at this action being even suggested.  Why?  Because in this case God was finishing up judgment of David's poor choices in the past.  Remember back in chapter twelve that God vowed to do openly to David's wives what David had done in secret.  God allowed David's own son to sleep with his father's concubines openly before all of Israel. 

    When we next gather here to continue studying this Book, we are to find David back out in the crooks and crannies of the wilderness, attempting to organize his loyal followers into some semblance of a fighting force for he knows what his son will inevitably attempt to do.  May Christ richly bless you today, and every day!

    ~Eric



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    Sat, Jun 11th - 3:52PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    Satan is pretty good at quoting scripture, he simply does not always do so accurately.  He misquotes it to suit his purposes.  Satan will often misquote scripture by leaving out certain parts, important parts.  In tempting Jesus He quoted part of Psalm 91, but he left out this part, "...to keep You in all Your ways."  Satan wanted Jesus to fling Himself down and force the angels to save Him from dashing Himself upon the rocks, which is not what Psalm 91:11-12 is talking about at all.  Satan tempted Jesus to perform a miracle outside of the will of God.

    We must also note that Satan offered Jesus Christ the kingdoms of this entire world of ours.  I can already hear some distant questions coming from the atheists: "But you tell us that God is in charge of everything!  Who's in charge here?"  God is in charge, but He has given Satan dominion over the earth for a time.  This continues until Satan is judged and tossed into the lake of fire.  Prior to that time there will be a one thousand year break in Satan's influence over mankind's affairs when he is chained up in the bottomless pit.  

    Jesus did not question nor challenge Satan's offer, did He.  Jesus didn't contradict Satan by saying, "You don't have kingdoms with which to offer, you are empty handed."  No, Jesus understood that Satan did have the authority to offer earth's kingdoms.  Why do we continue to suffer from so much trouble in our world today?  Could it possibly be due to the influence of Satan, who is the prince of this world?  Satan runs things on this planet, governments are continually being tweaked by him to do his bidding.  Some Christians tend to fight the evils of communism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism without ever realizing that Satan is behind all of them.  They fail to realize that Satan is behind the confusion and turmoil that exists across our world.  God is all about order and rightness while Satan is all about confusion and rebellion.  Satan is our spiritual enemy, he desires to be God.  Satan wants everyone to worship him and not God.  

    12: Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee;

    13: And leaving Nazareth, He came and lived in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nepthalim (4:12-13).  

    Jesus chose to leave Jerusalem since John the Baptist had been arrested and thrown into prison.  So we have Jesus shifting from the south to the north leaving Nazareth behind temporarily.  Please note that the four gospel accounts do not attempt to parallel each other.  They present slightly different perspectives of these events.  We can harmonize the gospels only to a certain point and no further.  None of them were intended to give us a complete biography of Jesus, but each was intended to fulfill a specific purpose.  Matthew was written to reach the religious element and primarily nation Israel.

    We are provided no details of the move to Capernaum but are informed in other gospels that His hometown had rejected Him.  Capernaum became His "headquarters" and remained such until He traveled down to Jerusalem to be crucified.  Matthew is about to give us the reason for the move.

    14: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying,

    15: The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

    16: The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up (4:14-16).  

    This prophecy can be found in Isaiah 9:1-2 and 42:6-7.  Galilee was considered at that time to be Gentile country since so many non Jews had settled in that region from out of the Roman Empire.  I suppose it could be said that a "resort" community had sprung up around the Sea of Galilee, but it was very worldly and even wicked.  The people who populated that region were very far from God.

    The great Light of the World, Jesus Christ, broke upon their darkness.  His very presence created a responsibility for them.  They got to witness many miracles but there was very little response to them.  Later on Jesus pronounces judgment upon them (11:20-24).

    That is all for now my friends.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Jun 8th - 7:44PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



     1: And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.
     2: And the king said to Ziba, What do you mean by these?  And Ziba said, The asses be for the king's household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink (16:1-2).

    Ziba was the servant of Jonathan's lame son.  David had cared for him due to his love for Jonathan.  It seems that this servant is angling for position within the government what with all of the internal struggles ongoing.  Perhaps he is thinking the house of Saul might be able to slip back onto the throne?  

     3: And the king said, And where is your master's son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abides at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.
     4: Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, you are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech you that I may find grace in your sight, my lord, O king (16:3-4).

    Ziba appears to desire obtaining something from the estate of Mephibosheth.  But David does not really have the time to stop and consider what he is hearing, he answers quickly therefore.

     5: And when king David came to Bahurim,  behold, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera:  he came out, and cursed still as he came.
     6: And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David:  and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.
     7: And so said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, you bloody man, and you man of Belial:
     8: The LORD has returned upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead you have reigned; and the LORD has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son:  and, behold, you are taken in your mischief, because you are a bloody man (16:5-8).  

    Shimei spoke some truth.  David was a bloody man, and judgment was coming upon him, there was no way to avoid it.  Please note David's reaction and response to such effrontery by today's standards.

     9: Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah to the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?  let me go over, I pray you, and take off his head (16:9).

    Ahh, a man after Simon Peter's own heart, eh?  Who cares if the man is speaking some truth, no one is supposed to speak to our king in such language.  Let me go over and slice his head off and we can be done with the cursing of his lips.  Now we can read David's reaction:

    10: And the king said, What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah?  so let him curse, because the LORD has said unto him, Curse David.  Who shall then say, Why have you done so?
    11: And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants,Behold, my son, which came from out of my loins, seeks my life:  how much more now may this Benjaminite do it?  let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD has bidden him (16:10-11).  

    David was not going to kick against God.  He understood that God was executing some judgment against him for his past actions/choices.  He had chosen to bide his time, to seek the face of God and hopefully find favor in His eyes once more.

    That is all for tonight.  Hopefully tomorrow I can continue on and we can find out what is happening back in good old Jerusalem.  Grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Jun 5th - 3:54PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     1: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (4:1).

    Jesus has been born of a virgin mother, raised up as any other child would be except He being sinless and harmless.  Now immediately after being baptized in the Jordan River and having been identified with all of mankind, He is to be tested, for there are some questions which need to be answered.  The word "tempt" has a dual meaning:

    1).   "Incite or entice to evil; seduce."  There is that within each of us which causes us to be very susceptible to yielding to evil/wickedness.  In the case of Jesus there was none of this susceptibility, and so Satan was forced to resort to different tactics and present a much greater temptation to Jesus.

    2).   "Test."  God does not tempt men with evil according to James 1:13.  And yet we are told in Genesis 22:1 that God did tempt Abraham.  Abraham was tested to see if his faith was solid and strong.  Jesus is to be tested.  Could Jesus fall?  No.  God can't be tested and fail.  

    This leads us to consider whether or not His temptation was legitimate and genuine.  I would have to believe that His temptation was magnitudes greater than anything which I am tempted with each day.  Jesus was tempted and showed that He was exactly who He claimed to be.  His temptation was a demonstration to prove that He could not be broken.  It was also a demonstration of how to avoid repeating the error of Eve in the Garden of Eden.

     2: And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry.
     3: And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread (4:2-3).  

    We find in this the same sort of temptation as what confronted Eve:  physical sustenance.  Eve saw that the tree was good for food (Genesis 3:6).  Jesus was presented with the suggestion that He could simply change the stones into the food which His body required.  I John 2:15-16 informs all believers that such a temptation is the lust of the flesh.  Notice that Satan did not show up until Jesus Christ was at His weakest point in the fasting.  Satan bides his time, waiting patiently until we are exhausted, depleted, no longer on guard against spiritual attacks.  Those are the moments when Satan launches his temptations against us, entrapping us in a web of enticement, lust, urge fulfillment, and satisfaction of bodily needs.  We must therefore remain ever vigilant, ever watchful, fully prepared to defend the "walls" of our persons and of our families.  

     4: But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
     5: Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple,
     6: And said to Him, If You be the Son of God, cast Yourself down:  for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning You:  and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone(4:4-6).  

    Jesus' response in verse four is a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3.  He knew the Old Testament scriptures and believed them to be the inspired Word of God in heaven.  We are not to rely solely upon physical nourishment but to feed ourselves spiritually as well.  Having physical health will not usher us into heaven.  It will not prevent Satan from taking everything away from us, he is the stronger.  

    Having been rebuked, Satan immediately moved on to another temptation.  He transported Jesus from out of the wilderness back into Jerusalem.  He set Him atop of a high rooftop of the temple and dared Him to fling Himself down to the ground far below.  The challenge was that angels would be forced to come to His rescue and prevent Him from suffering death before the cross of Calvary.  Satan quoted Psalm 91:11-12, he just did not do so accurately.  Isn't this what he did to Eve as well?  Here upon the highest pinnacles of the temple Satan presented Jesus with a spiritual temptation.  For Eve it was seeing the fruit and desiring to make herself wise, for the Christian it is the pride of life (I John 2:16).

     7: Jesus said to him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God (4:7).  

    Jesus meets the temptation with quoted scripture from Deuteronomy 6:16.  We must defend ourselves exactly the same way today beloved!  And now comes the third temptation.

     8: Again, the devil took Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
     9: And said to Him, All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me (4:8-9).  

    This is a psychological temptation here.  Man lusts for power and influence.  Eve was faced with a similar temptation: :...you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil(Genesis 3:5)."  Sounds like a logical choice, does it not?  Don't be fooled.  She and Adam did end up knowing good and evil but it did not make either of them into gods, it simply made them totally aware of their nakedness and broken fellowship with God.  Too many of us today succumb to this test.  Satan was able to offer the kingdoms of this world to Jesus for they had already been given into his control.  Satan is the prince of the power of the air, the lord of all of the earth and all that is on it.  It is he who influences world governments into doing things which cause atrocities to flourish, that cause world peace efforts to languish by the wayside.  If Jesus had decided to worship Satan then Satan had the authority to give all of the world powers over to Him.  Satan continues to woo men and women into doing his bidding by offering up these gems of manipulation.  "I can give you wealth and power beyond your wildest imagination!"  "I can give you prestige and reputation. status and reknown, everybody will recognize who you are!"  "Millions will bow down before you if you simply worship me first!"  These are the rewards Satan dangles like a carrot out in front of people, and it works!  Now notice Jesus's reply to Satan---

    10: Then said Jesus to him, Get you hence, Satan:  for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve (4:10).  

    Jesus's response to Satan was a quotation of Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20.  The answer to Satan's temptations in our lives is quoting scripture back at him accurately.  

    Why is it that so many of us are having problems living the Christian life?  I believe it stems directly from an ignorance of the Word of God.  Jesus always answered by giving the Word of God, and doing so accurately.  Whatever your particular problem might be today the Word of God has an answer for it.  It does not mean that I may know the answer to your problem, or that a psychologist or psychiatrist knows the answer to your problem either.  But God has an answer for your problem, and it is to be found within His Word.  Thus we must know God's Word better each day so that we may be able to find answers more quickly.  Eve had heard God speak in the Garden of Eden but obviously she had not paid close enough attention to exactly what He had been saying to her and Adam.  Adam also was guilty of inattention to God's Word.  Let us not continually repeat their mistakes over and over and over in our lifetimes.  Read God's Word, learn God's Word, and remember God's Word.  It is there to protect us, as well as teach us.

    11: Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (4:11).  

    Luke 4:13 informs us that Satan left Him for only a little season.  Satan understood the importance of derailing Christ's mission on earth.  We simply need to look a bit harder in the Gospel accounts in order to spot times when Satan was clearly present and influencing people against Christ Jesus.

    So, in summary, we have seen that Jesus was born a King, and was introduced to the reader as a King.  He was baptized as a King, and now we have seen that He was tested as a King.  Constantly He has been presented in Matthew as a King.

    This testing revealed several things.  One is that Satan is a person.  He is treated as a person and not as some amorphous force.  We also noticed the very subtle insinuation of Satan.  First he said, "If You be the Son of God..."  Satan attempted to get Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God.  Satan knew that he could not tempt Jesus into committing any crime, so he tried to get Him to act outside of the Father's will.  Jesus refused to do so, even though later on in His public ministry He did feed multitudes with bread.  The wickedness Satan tried to generate was in the inducement to act outside of God's will.

    We also see that the proper response to each temptation was the Word of God.  Jesus therefore demonstrated for us proper use of the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) to meet the enemy of God.  We must therefore become more adept at using God's Word/sword of the Spirit!  This is our sole weapon in deflecting away Satan's fiery arrows and forcing him to retreat from us.

    We must note that Satan wanted Jesus to become a religious leader by committing a stupendous miracle rather than by the plan of God the Father.  Satan's way would by-pass the cross of Christ upon Golgotha, there would be no salvation, no redemptive blood shed for mankind.  Have we succumbed too much to the siren song of Satan today and fail to preach the cross of Christ to the peoples of earth?

    What do we hear about today?  Miracle workers, faith healers, prophets, seers.  People are running around in search of faith healers and those who can tell them their futures.  Jesus could have very easily become a huge religious leader by faith healing the multitudes everywhere.  He refused to do so, it was not the plan of God in heaven and that was what Jesus was sent here to accomplish:  His Father's work.  Jesus could have told everyones' fortunes since He knew everyone from before they were ever born.  Did He not tell the Samaritan woman all that had befallen her during her lifetime?  But that would not have solved mankind's sin problem, now would it?  So, it remained for Jesus to be focused upon His itinerary, on to the cross.

    That is all for today my friends.  Hope this helps you fix in your mind what you must do in order to defend yourself properly against the attacks of Satan.  We can't wait until our marriages are exploding apart before our eyes, or until loved ones are torn asunder in horrific car accidents or airplane accidents.  A tornado comes much too quickly to give us sufficient time to ready ourselves to deal with its aftermath upon passing over us.  We must be prepared before hand.

    I pray for grace and peace to be yours this day.  Walk in the grace of Christ, practice peacemaking and reconciliation each day!

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Jun 3rd - 7:52PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    12: Whose fan is in His hand, and He shall thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (3:12). 

    This speaks to us of judgment from God of those who refuse to repent and come back to Him.  We see that that which is of no eternal value is to be separated from that which holds eternal value.  The chaff represents the unbelievers in God, they will be consumed in unquenchable fire.  Creation is to be purged of sin and all wickedness, to be returned to a pristine and holy condition once more.

    13: Then came Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him (3:13). 

    Why did God need to be baptized? 

    14: But John forbid Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of You, and You come to me?

    15: And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now:  for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.  Then he sufferd Him (3:14-15). 

    Several reasons are available, but the primary one is: "for thus it becomes us to fulfill righteousness."  Jesus identified Himself completely with sinful mankind.  Isaiah had prophesied that He would number Himself among the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).  Here we see a King who identifies with His subjects.  Baptism actually is about identification.  Setting an example for us was not the primary reason for Him doing this.  It was not primarily to give us a pattern to follow.  Christ was holy, He did not need to repent of anything.  You and I do need repentance.  Christ was holy, blameless, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.  His baptism was to completely identify Himself with humanity.

    Another reason for His baptism was that water baptism symbolized death.  Remember what His answer was to John and James when they wanted to be seated on His left and right sides in the kingdom?  "You do not know what you ask.  Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with (Matthew 20:22)?"  The disciples did not comprehend what that baptism consisted of.  Christ was to enter into death for everyone.

    Another reason for His baptism was that the Holy Spirit needed to come upon Him for He was being set aside as a priest.  His miracles and all that He did was done by the power of the Holy Spirit.  There was sin on Him, but there was no sin in Him.  My sin was placed upon Christ, your sin also was placed upon Him.  Therefore you and I are saved by being identified with Him.  Baptism identifies Him with humanity, and our baptism identifies us with Him.  To be saved is to be in Christ, and that comes by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Water baptism declares that we identify ourselves with Jesus Christ, it is a public testimony. 

    16: And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water:  and, lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him:

    17: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (3:16-17). 

    Here is one instance of the Godhead, or Trinity, being manifested.  We have Christ the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, all distinctly apart one from another.  Identification of Christ with mankind is complete, the King is with His people. 

    That finishes up this chapter and brings us to chapter number four.  The overall theme for this section is the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the start of His public ministry, and the calling of the first four disciples by the Sea of Galilee.  We shall pick up this study at that point next time my friends.  Until then, grace and peace be with you all! 

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Jun 1st - 6:56AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     9: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham as our father:  for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham (3:9).  

    God addresses the issue of pride and also that of reliance upon spiritual lineage.  There are those today who trust in the fact that they have been born into a family which has been church goers for some four or five generations.  There are those who take extreme pride in that they attend every mass and go to confessional faithfully.  We must be very, very careful to not allow our pride to become so great that it overwhelms our faith in Christ and our pride is what we rely upon in living our lives.  Do not trust in denominations, trust in Christ Jesus.  Do not trust in your faithful attendance of worship services, trust in your faithful obedience to Christ Jesus.  John the Baptist informed the Jews that their pride in their lineage was a moot point since God was fully capable of turning stones into children of Abraham.  The Jews figured being related to Abraham was their automatic ticket into heaven; there is only one automatic ticket into heaven, and that is believing in Jesus Christ.

    10: And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees:  therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire (3:10).  

    The New Testament speaks volumes about fruit bearing.  Fruit bearing comes in either good or bad fruit.  It must be determined whether or not any particular tree bears good or bad fruit.  John the Baptist speaks here about the axe being taken up against the root of the trees and the reason being that the "trees" are either not producing fruit, or they are producing bad fruit.  The root and the tree go together, so if there is undesirable production the entire tree must be cut down and destroyed.  In order for there to be good fruit there must be good root to begin with.  Practically speaking, you must have the proper roots in order to grow an apple tree or an orange tree.

    In truth, John the Baptist was talking to them about the themselves.  He was giving them warning that the time had come when God was to begin the culling process within the nation of Israel.  Think of Israel as an orchard of fruit trees.  God was going to review every "tree" and its good fruit production, those which were failing to produce good fruit were going to be chopped down, removed from the "orchard" and destroyed in the fire.  This verse is the beginning point of several different teaching points that Jesus would develop during His ministry on earth.  We have that of fruit bearing, of having the proper "roots", of judgment from God, repentance from sin, and of eternal damnation.  John the Baptist was telling all of them that the wrong kind of tree was going to be chopped down and cast into the all-consuming fire.

    11: I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance:  but He that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear:  He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (3:11).  

    John the Baptist informed them that God was coming in the flesh to determine who would be baptized with His Holy Spirit and with fire.  This phase in God' plans has been ongoing for some two thousand years now.  You and I live in the age of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus Christ baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit and He shall baptize with fire when He returns the second time, fire representing final judgment.  I strongly recommend that everyone figure out now which sort of tree they are in order that they may avoid being "chopped down" and thrown into the fires of judgment in the future.  Are you producing good fruit these days?  Are you spreading the Gospel and helping to lead others to discovering Christ?  Are you raising your children up in the way that they ought to go?  Are you serving Christ faithfully each day?  

    We must be careful to not be trapped into thinking that this verse speaks about the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:2-3.  Careful reading of that passage reveals that it was "cloven tongues like as of fire."  It was not actual fire that sat upon each person in that room but was of that in appearance.  It wasn't actual wind nor fire but it was the coming of the Holy Spirit upon each of those people gathered together in that room.  The baptism of fire is to take place at the second coming of Christ.  During this present age the Holy Spirit comes upon each and every believer in Jesus Christ, each one is baptized in the Spirit of God.  Each believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them and they become a part of the Body of Christ, a part of the universal church of God.  

    That is all the time that I have this morning, beloved.  Next time we shall see that verse eleven's thought is continued on in verse twelve and made plain to us.  I hope you return as I seek to complete study of chapter three when we gather here once more.  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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