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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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    Sun, Nov 27th - 3:26PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     7: But if you had known what this means, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice", you would not have condemned the guiltless.

     8: For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day (12:7-8).

    Christ's statement in verse seven comes from Hosea 6:6.  Jesus defended His disciples by stating that they did not break the Sabbath day.  Why?  Because He laid claim to being the One who established the Sabbath to begin with.  He was Lord over it, just as He was Lord over everything else.  In the view of the Pharisees Jesus could not make any greater claim.  It was this claim that ultimately brought upon Him their bitterness and their hatred. 

    Now Jesus and His disciples move indoors from the fields, going to the synagogue, but they are dogged by the very same Sabbath question.

      9: And when He was departed from there, He went into their synagogue.

    10: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered.  And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?  that they might accuse Him.

    11: And He said to them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold of it and lift it out (12:9-11)?

    Perhaps this man with the withered hand had been purposefully planted there by the Pharisees, a trap laid across Christ's path in order to tempt Him into healing him?  If so, then there are two admissions given by the enemies of Jesus Christ:

       1.   They have admitted He had the power to heal the sick.  As has been seen throughout the Gospels, they never question His ability to perform miracles.  The Pharisees freely acknowledged that Jesus had the power to heal the sick.  They sought to create a negative motivation on His part for doing these healings. 

       2.   They have acknowledged that when a helpless man was placed in His way, He was moved by compassion to heal him, even on the Sabbath day.  Their question about the "legality" of healing on the Sabbath day was designed to trap Him.  But the trap was sprung in the opposite direction!  They conceded that a sheep should be rescued on the Sabbath day, the Mosaic Law made allowances for just such a thing.  So now the trap springs shut on the Pharisees!

    12: How much then is a man better than a sheep?  Therefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

    13: Then said He to the man, Stretch out your hand.  And he stretched it out; and it was restored whole, like as the other hand (12:12-13). 

    The crux of the matter is made very plain for us all:  It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day!  In fact, to refuse to do good is a sin before the eyes of God.  It is inexcusable as a Christian to behave in such a fashion.  We are to do good each and every day of the week, whether we are formally worshipping God or if we are out in the world working to earn our wage. 

    That is all for today my friends.  Grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric



    Comment (0)

    Fri, Nov 25th - 12:00PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    25: At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes.
    26: Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Your sight (11:25-26).  

    "Lord of heaven and earth" is a phrase which takes us back to Genesis chapter 14 and refers us to my other study in the Koinonia blog about "Who Is This God?"  Many wise people fail to learn the truth that Jehovah is the Most High God of heaven and earth, but mere babes understand it.  If we preach so that children can understand what we are saying, we can almost be sure that everyone will understand.  However, sometimes the kids get it and the adults miss it completely.  

    27: All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither does any man know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him (11:27).  

    Here is yet another way to express John 14:6.  If any person today wishes to know God the Father they must do so through Jesus Christ the Son.  It is the only way, as Jesus Himself firmly declared.  Reject Christ as Deity and you reject Jehovah as Deity and there is no Christian faith within you.  To know Christ is to know God is to know Jehovah.  Keep that concept in your hip pocket as we move on.

    28: Come to Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
    29: Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
    30: For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light (11:28-30). 

    These verses bring us to a definite change in God's message.  Up to this point Christ taught everyone to repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He had presented His credentials and had been rejected as the Messiah.  Christ turns His back upon the nation of Israel, no longer presenting them the kingdom.  He is on His way to the cross, and His invitation now is to the individual, not cities nor nations.  

    These three verses are like a climate change.  We have gone from harsh winter chill and broken through into the warmth of a spring day.  This is the flip side message of Christ, a call to come out of the darkness into the light of repentance.  God extends His personal offer of "rest" to individuals, explaining that He is meek and lowly in heart.  He is not just a God of wrath and judgment but a God of love, generosity, grace, and mercy.  

    God speaks to us here of resting us from our burdens.  The burdens referred to are not just physical ones, it includes our emotional burdens, our psychological burdens, and our burden of sin.  The prophet Isaiah pointed this very thing out in the fourth verse of his book and in Psalm 38:4 we can read of this concept also.  

    Beloved, sin is too heavy a burden for any of us to carry around.  Attempting to do so only wears us out mentally, emotionally, and physically.  There is in all actuality only one place in the universe to put that burden, and it is at the cross of Christ Jesus.  He bore it for you, and He invites you to come and bring your burden of sin to Him.  He alone is able to forgive you because on the cross He bore the burden of your sin, and He did so willingly.  

    Verse 28 speaks of the salvation of the sinner through Jesus Christ. Verse 29 speaks of the practical sanctification of the believer in Christ.  This rest which Christ gives is the rest of redemption and means that we no longer must work and seek to earn forgiveness for our sins.  We can now rest from our labor and begin serving Christ instead, we can begin to redeem lost time.    The believer also experiences a rest which comes through commitment and consecration to Christ.  The believer does not need worry about recognition nor jockey for position if they are committed to Christ Jesus.  Ambition is out of place for a Christian.  If God wishes you to be the head of some organization or association, then He will put you there.  But only if you are yoked to Him.  

    I now begin chapter twelve of Matthew, its theme being conflict and final break of Jesus Christ with the religious rulers of His society.  Recall that Matthew was not inspired to give a biography of the life of Christ Jesus, nor give a chronologically accurate account of events.  Matthew is presenting to us Christ as King.  The King has come to proclaim the coming of His kingdom, has provided the ethic of the kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount, has sent out His apostles to perform miracles/healings, and given His credentials as the King.  The reaction in general was rejection and so the King pronounced judgment on those cities which had rejected Him outright.

    Now the King reaches a point of breaking into conflict with the religious rulers of that day.  The Pharisees apparently were friendly towards Him at the outset but then stepped away over disputes concerning the Sabbath day.  There are going to be two places in which this Sabbath question arises: on the outside in the field, and on the inside in the synagogue.

     1: At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and ate them (12:1).  

    Why were the disciples plucking ears of corn?  Because they were hungry from traveling along with Jesus.  Jesus had already pointed out to a young man who wished to follow after Him that foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the Son of man has no where to lay down His head at night.  Christ Jesus was not a wealthy man providing for His disciples and Himself at all of the best motels and hotels along their way.  No, He was a poor carpenter with no money of His own by this point in time.  He and His disciples ate where they were able and of what was available to them.  The Pharisees were extremely strict concerning obeying the sabbath day rules and were outraged at this breach of the rules.

     2: But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, Behold, Your disciples do that which is not legal to do upon the sabbath day.
     3: But He said to them, Have younot read what David did, when he was hungry, and they that were with him?
     4: How he did enter into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
     5: Or have you not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
    6: But I say to you, That in this place is one greater than the temple (12:2-6).  

    The Pharisees simply could not comprehend why Jesus permitted this sort of action on the sabbath days.  Jesus reminds them of their own patriarch, who was rejected as being the anointed king of Israel, going into the house of God and eating that which was unlawful to eat.  Jesus was drawing them a parallel with Himself having been rejected as the King, the Messiah.  

    Christ pointed out to them that the priests always worked in the house of God on sabbath days and yet were held blameless by God.  He was directing their attention to the fact that it was not labor which God frowned down upon but the nature of that labor.  Requiring one day per week to leave personal labor and focus upon worship of God was a training exercise for the day when every day would become the sabbath and all labor would need to become focused upon serving God.    Jesus Christ was pointing out to these religious rulers His claim to superiority over their most holy center of religious belief.  He claimed to be greater than the Temple and the Holy of Holies.  As far as these Pharisees were concerned, Christ had blasphemed.  Not only had He broken their concept of the sabbath, but He had also blasphemed.  They were so locked into their "box" of what reality was all about that they failed to stop and consider everything that Christ had done and said.  They simply reacted in a knee-jerk fashion, becoming highly defensive of their intellectual point of view.  

    Next time, we shall see how Jesus went even further and completely challenged their way of perceiving their holy God, Jehovah.  Grace and peace be with you all on this "Black Friday" in the retail business world.  May Christ's Light shine brilliantly in your life each and every day!

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Nov 23rd - 1:23PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    18: For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a devil.
    19: The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine drinker, a friend of publicans and sinners.  But wisdom is justified of her children (11:18-19).  

    People criticized John the Baptist because he led an austere life.  They were not comfortable with him and his message and so they criticized him and made false allegations against him.  Then Jesus came being friendly to both rich and poor, publican and sinner.  What did people say about Him?  "He is a glutton and he is way too friendly with sinners, Gentiles, and publicans!"  They were uncomfortable with His message and made false allegations against Him as well.  

    Believers today must understand that we can't possible please everyone and offend no one.  We either please God or try to please as many people as possible.  But someone will become offended at our words, our actions, and/or our belief.  We ought to be concerned to not make God be the one offended.  Jesus did not come to offend anyone, He came to seek and to save that which was lost.  And yet many people became highly offended by His message, to the point of demanding His life become forfeit upon a wooden cross.  

    Beloved, there are some people whom you simply can't please and you are better off to forget about them.  Add them to your prayer list of those in need of enlightenment from God.  They don't like one pastor because He just stands up there and gives uninspiring sermons.  The next preacher isn't liked because he is extremely passionate and may even pound the pulpit.  Perhaps one is too profound,  and they can't understand him, and the other is too simple so they don't like him either.  One may preach straight out of the Bible and they don't feel comfortable with that while the other may preach about social justice and activism and they are unsure that they believe in that either.  We can't possibly please everyone all of the time.

    20: Then He began to upbraid the cities where most of His mighty works were done, because they did not repent:
    21: Woe unto you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
    22: But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you (11:20-22). 

    We must remember that Christ Jesus has enunciated the ethic, shown His credentials by the performance of miracles, preached the gospel that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and He has presented Himself.  Yet, His people have rejected Him and His message.  Their rejection has lead Him to decide to reject them.  He is the King and the King always will have the final word.  

    Chorazin and Bethsaida were cities in the north near Capernaum.  Jesus had performed many miracles in this entire region and they had rejected Him.  So He pronounces judgment upon them.  When Light appears it creates responsibility.  Christ Jesus never had a ministry in Sidon or Tyre, nor did He have His headquarters located there.  But He surely did spend much time in and around these two cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida, and He held them responsible for the Light which He gave them.  The lesson given to all of us out of this passage is that there are to be levels of punishment as well as levels of reward at the Final Judgment of God.  Those who are given glorious opportunity to receive Christ, but turn their back on Him, will experience profound judgment from God.  

    Exactly what God shall do with that person who has lived upon a remote South Pacific Island and worships an image, I do not know.  But I do know what He shall do with that person who has come and sat in Sunday worship services week after week and heard the gospel and done absolutely nothing about it.

    23: And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day(11:23).  

    Christ speaks to Capernaum where He had his ministry headquarters.  They had been privileged to have Him centering His ministry and disciples in their city.  But they rejected Him!  What a slap in the face is given to them!  Jesus tells them that if Sodom had been privy to His miracles then that city would not have been destroyed utterly.  In all of that city's wickedness there was still a receptiveness to miracles being performed.  Now Jesus lets the proverbial other shoe to drop on Capernaum.

    24: But I say to you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you (11:24).  

    Very harsh language being used here.  The Lamb of God speaks here as the Judge and King of the universe.  Personally I would rather be an ignorant aborigine never having heard the gospel than to be a staunch attendee in one of our modern churches, having my Bible but never genuinely having accepted Christ as my Savior.  It will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than it will be for those cities which heard the message of Jesus and rejected it and Him.  

    Grace and peace be with you all.  May you be thankful to God for all that you may have.  Thank Him for your possessions, for your health, and for your family.

    ~Eric


    Comment (1)

    Tue, Nov 22nd - 9:46AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    13: For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
    14: And if you will receive it, this is Elias, which was to come.
    15: He that has ears to hear, let him hear (11:13-15).  

    John the Baptist fulfilled the prediction of the messenger to come, as it is recorded in Malachi 3:1.  The question that is raised at this point is, "If Israel had accepted Christ at His first coming, would He have established the kingdom immediately, and would John the Baptist have been Elijah?"  The obvious answer is Yes!  How could that be?  I do not know.  God does many, many things which I can't understand but I simply accept them.  

    But if Christ intended to go to the cross and sacrifice Himself, His offer of Himself as King was not sincere, right?  No, it was sincere.  What if Israel had accepted Him as their King?  But they did not.  We can continuously deal with "what if" questions, but that is exactly what they are, "what if" questions.  The fact is that the Jews did reject Christ as their King.  "If" questions simply pose problems that do not exist.  There are plenty of problems that do exist without our creating more that do not exist!

    Christ then states a fact that is repeated several times in the New Testament: He who has ears to hear, let him hear!  Are you receptive to God speaking the truth to you?  Are you willing to consider what you read in the Bible as being the absolute truth about why mankind is here, why mankind has the sorts of problems that it has, and what the sole solution to mankind's problems is?  If so, then you have ears to hear.  

    16: But to what shall I liken this generation?  It is like children sitting in the markets, and calling to their friends,
    17: And saying, We have played music to you, and you have not danced; we have mourned to you, and you have not lamented (11:16-17).

    Here is a parable loaded with cutting sarcasm and irony.  Christ did not intend to hurt nor to harm but to illustrate a great truth to His listeners.  This story illustrates a group of kids out playing in the streets.  They say, "Let's play wedding!"  And so they all sing, play make believe instruments, and dance in the streets.  Then they say, "Let's play funeral!"  And they all mope and hang their heads as they weep and wail.  Back and forth they go with their self entertainment.  They go from one extreme to the other, back and forth.  They are spoiled children.  They no longer respond to the stimuli, there is no recognition in them.  That Jewish generation was like that and so is today's generation of people.  I mourn for those who refuse to accept, or even consider, Christ as their personal Savior.  They do not lament over their lack of discernment.  They do not respond positively when the Good News is shared with them either, there is no dancing or singing joyfully at the news that they can be reconciled with God.  

    I must stop here for today beloved.  My attention is required elsewhere, but return here tomorrow for more!  Grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Mon, Nov 21st - 9:11AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     7: And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the wilderness to see?  A reed shaken with the wind?
     8: But what did you go out to see?  A man clothed in soft raiment?  behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
     9: But what did you go out to see?  A prophet? yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet (11:7-9).  

    Jesus begins to elucidate to the crowds of people exactly who John the Baptist is.  John was not someone who was shaken by the winds of society, no, he was the wind that shook society with his message.  John was a prophet who came to proclaim the coming of the Lamb of God, and he proclaimed it boldly.  Today we experience too many pulpits where no message is proclaimed boldly about Christ Jesus and why He came.  The pulpits have become weak because the messages have been tailored to suit certain groups in the congregation or even out in the surrounding community.  They no longer wish to risk offending anyone and end up offending God Himself instead.  Which is worse?  Offending God.  Thank God for sending John the Baptist, a wind meant to shake all of the reeds.  


    Jesus informs us that John was a rugged individual.  He lived out in the wilderness, no comfy city life for him.  He was not dressed in fine clothing, no three piece suit was to be found upon his body.  No, John was a prophet of God called to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of heaven to mankind.  But John was even more than just a prophet.

    10: For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, which shall prepare Your way before You.
    11: Truly I say to you, Among them that are born of women there hasn't risen anyone greater than John the Baptist: however he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John (11:10-11).  

    Jesus clearly declares John to be the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1, which states:  " Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, says the Lord of hosts."  John was that messenger who was specially chosen to introduce the Messiah to nation Israel.  Looking at John 1:21-23 we can see that he clearly understood what his purpose was in God's plans:  I am a voice crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord!  How differently each of our lives would be if we too had such a clear vision of our God-given purpose in life.  

    In our day we have people who constantly compete for "top dog" status for they feel the need to become highly esteemed.  Jesus declares that John is greater than anyone in Israel's past.  However, John the Baptist was not to be elevated to a place of highest esteem for Jesus had come to call out a group of people who were to be even greater than he.  Why are we greater?  Because we are in Christ and clothed with His righteousness.

    12: And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (11:12).  

    Here is a key verse to understand properly.  Jesus clearly knows what Satan intends to do concerning the church.  The question put to all of us today is: do we clearly comprehend what is the church and what is not the church?  Are we able to discern those segments of Christianity that have deviated from Christ's teachings?  Are we able to discern those who claim to be believers of Christ but also deny His deity, or His Word?  What about those who claim that violence is necessary to creating peace on earth?  

    The "force" mentioned here can be either internal or external to the church body.  Forces of evil from without seek to destroy Christ's church by assailing it from the safety of society.  But there are also those who are committed wholeheartedly to forcing their way into the body of Christ's believers, to do so violently.  There is need and desperation.  There are also those who firmly believe that coercion of unbelievers to accept Christ in order to create the kingdom of heaven on earth is an acceptable means to achieve that end.  The Catholic Church fell victim to this error in the past.  No one can "create" the kingdom of heaven on earth except Jesus Christ upon His return at the end of this current age.  Violence begets violence and has no part in the Church.  The Crusades were a misguided effort by men who believed that they were doing God's work.  We can't do the judgment work of God for Him, we must leave that in His capable hands.  Rather, we are to share Christ's gospel message to all who are willing to hear.  We are to help people reconcile themselves with God and with each other.  We are to be peacemakers.  We are to be always aware of those who attempt to move the church body towards bigotry, racism, hatred, intolerance of others' beliefs, censorship, and violence.

    That is all for today beloved.  I hope to be back here tomorrow morning and post more in this chapter of Matthew.  I truly hope that your preparations for this upcoming holiday proceed smoothly and orderly.  Prepare your heart to be thankful to God for all that He has provided for you.

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Sun, Nov 13th - 11:42AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    40: He that receives you receives Me, and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me.
    41: He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
    42: And whosoever shall give a drink to one of these little ones of cold water only in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall in no wise lose his reward (10:40-42).  

    Why was the gospel market made, but that if some will not listen, others will. In the worst of times there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  Jesus Christ takes what is done to His faithful saints, whether in kindness or in unkindness, as done to Himself, and reckons Himself treated as they are treated.  Honor or contempt put upon an ambassador reflects honor or contempt upon the Prince that sends him/her, and saints are ambassadors for Christ. 

    In John 15 Christ Jesus clarifies this section of scripture when He says to us that the world has hated Him and it is going to hate His own.  We therefore ought not to be any more popular with the world than Jesus Christ is popular.  The measure of our loyalty and faithfulness to Him is given in the prophet's reward and the righteous man's reward.  If you defend Christ as a prophet, then you will receive that reward.  If you defend Him only as a righteous man then that is the reward which you shall receive.  Acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior and you and I shall receive a full reward.  It is made clear in this passage that rewards are given on the basis of faithfulness to Christ and His Word.

    That concludes chapter ten of Matthew.  Lots of stuff was discovered in this chapter, principles which each Christian follower of Christ must know and implement in their lives.    Now I begin covering the next chapter.  In this chapter we are informed that Jesus Christ continues His ministry, that He is quizzed by the disciples of John the Baptist; and He issues a new invitation to individuals.

     1: And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities (11:1).   

    Christ has enunciated the ethic, He has performed the miracles, and He has sent His disciples out to present His claims to the world.  The disciples have gone down the highways and the byways until they have visited all of the cities of Israel.  So what is the reaction to Christ's messianic claim?  It is simply, rejection.

    This chapter will make us consider it to be a turning point in Christ's ministry.  

     2: Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples.
     3: And they said to Him, Are You He that should come, or do we look for another (11:2-3)?  

    Jesus Christ went in person to the cities of Israel to preach the good news.  And news of His ministry across the countryside reached John the Baptist while he was in prison.  He knew that the Messiah was due to come in his lifetime and now he desired to know whether or not this Jesus was the Promised One from God.  

    Perhaps John was thinking that his prison door would be opened up to freedom since the Messiah had come?  It is entirely possible that he believed that Jesus would usher in the kingdom of heaven immediately.  So John's question through his disciples is a logical one.  But see Jesus's answer:

     4: Jesus answered and said to them, Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see:
     5: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
     6: And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me (11:4-6).  

    This response from Jesus comes directly from out of the prophecies of Isaiah 35:4-6.  He wished to put the stamp of authenticity upon His claims to be the Messiah by pointing out the fulfillment of ancient prophecies of what the Messiah would do.  Now, not all of those prophecies were fulfilled upon His first advent to earth for the kingdom was not established at that time.  Jesus knew that John would recognize the credentials being cited and fulfilled.

    This passage also speaks to us across the centuries for we too have been blind, deaf, lame, diseased, and dead, spiritually.  Accepting Christ into our hearts heals us of these conditions as we are born again spiritually and we begin to comprehend the Word of God more fully and clearly through the help of the Holy Spirit which now dwells within us.

    That is all for today beloved.  Next time, God willing, we shall review Jesus's tribute paid to John the Baptist.  Grace and peace be yours this day!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Fri, Nov 11th - 12:33PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    Let us continue with these great principles which apply to the life of every single believer in Christ Jesus.

    34: Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth: I did not come to send peace, but a sword.
    35: For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
    36: And a man's foes shall be members of his own household (10:34-36).  

    Verse 34 causes the absolute pacifist hard difficulties.  Why will peace be evasive to mankind?  Christ is not the one who is causing the lack of peace on our planet, He is the one who wishes to reinstate universal peace.  Satan is the one who desires rebellion and sedition against the kingdom of heaven.  Satan is the one who does not wish to see the sword of the Lord come to earth and reveal the deeds of the darkness.  Satan wishes to deceive and delude mankind into believing that God is a fairy tale, a crutch for weak-minded people, for then he is able to do what ever he wishes to with mankind.  

    The sword which is being spoken of here is not a physical weapon but it is the Word of God.  Jesus Christ Himself is the focal point upon which entire families can be divided based upon their choices to either believe in Him or to reject Him.  The discourse here is building up to a basic question to be put upon each person who reaches the point of choosing whether or not to follow after Christ.  How much are you willing to sacrifice for Christ?  Will you put Christ absolutely first in your life, or will you allow family ties and loyalties get in the way?  Which is to be more important to you?

    Jesus Christ did not come the first time to bring peace to this earth.  Sin remains active in our world; and as long as it stays in the created universe, God says that there will be no peace for the peoples of the world.

    The preaching of the Gospel divides families, can even divide entire communities.  The unity of believers in the Spirit of God is the very thing which makes a division with the remainder of the unsaved world.  The unsaved view the preaching of the cross to be utter foolishness while those who are saved view it as the power of God Himself revealed for all to see.

    37: He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (10:37).  

    Many people stumble upon this verse.  They would do anything for their child or children.  Anything.  But they will not do the same for God.  Children can not be held captive spiritually by their parents, it is not right.  Children must be free to follow the call of God in their lives.  Parents are to love them and support them.  Parents, if they have discharged their Godly duty properly, will be able to confidently allow their children to leave home for they will know that they have given them knowledge about Christ, good habits concerning prayer, good habits about pleasing God in what you think, do, and say.  Are these easy things to implement in one's life?  Not really since it is the natural inclination of a parent to protect a child from all possible harm.  It is why it is crucial to get intimately involved with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.

    38: And he that does not take up his cross, and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (10:38).  

    Not being deemed worthy of Christ means that that person is not in a usable state.  Christ does not jettison that person overboard, He simply can't use them for anything useful.  "Take up his cross" is a phrase which I intend to study out in a separate posting later on.  But it signifies that I as a believer in Christ must become actively involved in my faith journey, otherwise I will be determined to be unworthy of Christ and not be considered to be a good, and faithful servant.

    39: He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for My sake shall find it (10:39). 

    Here is the principle which contrasts the life which I had here in the flesh with the gift of eternal life which comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is entirely possible that when a person accepts Christ he/she may be put to death because of that expression of faith.  It does not occur here in the United States yet, but it is very true in other parts of our world today.  A person who loses his physical life for belief in Christ will find eternal life which takes them into the very presence of God.  Clinging stubbornly to my carnal nature will cause me to lose my chance at eternal life in heaven.  Flinging away my carnal nature and embracing Christ brings to me life eternal in the kingdom of heaven.  Lose my carnal life and I can gain eternal life with Christ.  

    That is all for today beloved.  I now prepare for opening worship services for the Brethren District Conference later this evening.  May all that we do today be to the glory of Christ!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Tue, Nov 8th - 8:53PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    24: The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
    25: It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.  If they have called the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household (10:24-25).

    Jesus Christ gave general instructions to His disciples.  They are directly applicable to every believer today just as they were back then.  We must keep in mind that we are ambassadors of Christ, His representatives here on earth.  He must therefore come first in all things.  When we do not put Him first in our lives we will have trouble, and it will be with Him.

    If you and I are being faithful to Christ then we do not need to worry about what people say about us.  They did not say very nice things about Christ when He walked the earth in the flesh.  If He received rough treatment, then His disciples can not expect to experience any better.  If we are not experiencing any rough treatment from anybody, then perhaps we are not being faithful enough to Christ and are being more faithful to worldly things.  This is principle number one: Don't be intimidated by how others treat you.

    26: Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
    27: What I tell you in darkness, that you will speak in light: and what you hear, that you will preach upon the housetops.
    28: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (10:26-28).

    Beloved, your life is going to be turned inside out someday and so is mine.  God's ultimate judgment will someday vindicate all believers and deal with persecutors; so make sure that the inside of your life is as attractive as the outside.  That is principle number two.  

    Principle number three is that we are to preach what we hear from God's Word from the housetops.  Today this can be done effectively through radio ministries, television ministries, and internet ministries.  We can't hoard the Gospel to ourselves and not give it away to everyone who is searching for liberty from guilt, shame, and remorse.

    Principle number four is found in verse 28.  Fear only God.  We must firmly keep in our minds the account of Job and how he lost everything, even his health.  But Satan could not take his soul for Job had given that to God.  Job loved God through thick and through thin.  It is why married couples ought to exchange those vows of remaining faithful to each other through better or worse, sickness and health, through good times and the bad.  Only God has the ability to destroy our very souls.  Satan may drive other people to kill our bodies, but he can't destroy our souls for he is incapable of doing so.  We need to become as Cromwell was.  When asked why he was such a brave man he replied, "I've learned that when you fear God, you do not have any man to fear."  I do believe that says it all.  

    29: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
    30: But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
    31: Therefore do not fear, you are of more value than many sparrows (10:29-31).  

    If God looks after the birds of the air, then how much more so shall He look after each of us?  God says that He knows how many hairs are upon our heads!  God loves us!  That is the next principle to remember: We are loved of God and He watches over us lovingly.  God knows where every bird is at any point in time and thus He also knows exactly where we are at any point in time.  We do not have to worry that we will catch God off guard with any of our choices.  It can't happen. You and I can't reach a place where God does not know where we are.  I can run as fast and as far as I am able, and God will be at my destination ahead of me.  God is inescapable.  

    32: Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven.
    33: But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven (10:32-33).  

    Principle number six is as natural as day following night.  If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and personal Savior from sin, we will then acknowledge it publicly or whenever it is deemed necessary to give a testimony.  But those who refuse to publicly acknowledge Christ as their Lord and Savior will be denied by Christ before God in heaven.  Principle six:  Confess Christ before men and be confessed before God in heaven by Christ; deny Christ before men and be denied before God by Christ.  Yet, I do not want to make a fool of myself for there are times when I am not to cast my pearls before swine; there are times when I do not honor God by the use of His name in certain circles.  

    I will stop here for now.  Next time I will delineate five or six more principles that must be working in every Christian's life.  Grace and peace be yours!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Sun, Nov 6th - 8:35PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    What the Apostles were to expect next:

    16: Behold, I send you out as sheep in the middle of wolves: you therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (10:16).  

    Christ gave His followers certain great principles by which they were to go as His witnesses.  These principles were not time specific, only to be effective during the first century A.D.  No, these are good for all time and eternity, most certainly still good for our day and age.  Children of God should be wise as a serpent and harmless as doves.  It is dangerous to be one and not the other.  To be quite clever, but be harmful is to be in Satan's camp.  The other end of this spectrum is occupied by those who are harmless but also are very gullible.  Saints of Christ must be the proper mixture of both.  

    17: But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues.
    18: And you shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles (10:17-18).

    I have been scourged on the world wide web verbally, but I surely do not desire to be physically scourged anywhere, at any time.  So, brethren, I urge you all to be especially wary of men for they will begin to deliver us up to city councils, town councils, boards of supervisors, and others in order to prevent us from preaching the truth to those in dire need of hearing it.  Do not say, "But brother Eric, here in America we have democracy and freedom of speech!"  I am certain that the people of Germany said similar things before Nazism and Hitler took hold politically and then socially.  Besides, I see more and more people already forgetting the lessons gruesomely learned back in World War II about giving Satan a foothold.  When good people choose to not do anything, evil eventually wins out.  That is my warning to all, all around this world.

    We also see here that Christ advised His apostles that when they were brought up before governors and kings that it was for the sole purpose to be a testimony against them and the Gentiles.  A time is relentlessly approaching when all of these things will begin to happen to believers all across this planet.  Mankind will no longer remain tolerant of the truth being preached.  We will all begin to be rounded up, arrested, arraigned, and sentenced to prison time if we refuse to recant our belief in Jesus Christ.  At that time, our testimony is to remain true to God and be a testimony against our accusers.

    19: But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given to you in that same hour what you shall speak.
    20: For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you (10:19-20). 

    Here is the plan for dealing with being brought before any sort of council or board.  Do not waste time and energy worrying about what you will say when questioned by them.  Remain at peace, remain in prayer to the Lord.  He says that He shall provide you with the words that He wishes you to say to them who harass you and wish to imprison you.  

    These two verses do not apply to the preparation of sermons each week!  They only apply to those instances where we are apprehended and brought before a judge or panel of people who desire to pass judgment upon us for preaching God's Word.  

    21: And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death (10:21). 

    This scenario has already raised its ugly head at least once during mankind's history.  During Adolf Hitler's reign in Nazi Germany these sorts of things happened regularly.  It also happened in the Soviet Union where people reported to the Communist Party on the behavior/actions of their family members and neighbors.  People would be arrested in the middle of the night and never seen again.  But with the coming of Christ into our world, into our awareness, man was divided against man.  When one person in a family accepts Christ and other family members do not, there is a division created.  

    22: And you shall be hated of all men for My name's sake; but he that endures to the end shall be saved.
    23: But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another: for truly I say to you, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, until the Son of man has come (10:22-23).  

    Verse 22 refers to the fact that Christ was able to keep His own saints for the three-year period of His earthly ministry.  Also, Matthew 24:13 will tell us that Christ will be able to keep His own saints during the entire Great Tribulation Period.  But what about all of us who live in between those two periods of time?  We too shall be saved as we endure to the end of our physical lives.  This is the part of our salvation which can't become effective until we die physically.  

    Notice how Jesus phrased verse 24.  All of the cities of Israel will not be covered by these apostles until He comes before the entire nation.  Persecution was not to prevent them, or to paralyze them, from going to the next city before them.  They were to remain in motion, working God's plan given to them.  Later in this book of Matthew we will find that Jesus clearly understood what sort of impact He was having upon the Israelites when He asked the apostles what men were saying about Him.  

    That is all for tonight my friends.  Next time I give you the principles that are to govern the lives of all believers in Christ Jesus, the same ones which He gave to His disciples.  Grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric


    Comment (1)

    Tue, Nov 1st - 8:28PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give.
     9: Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses (10:8-9).

    Here we discover what the totality of the package encompasses if one claims to be a faith healer.  If you heal the sick, then all of the other items are to also be accomplished by you.  You are not to do these things for money.  God did not charge money for giving a person the ability to heal, to cleanse, to raise the dead, and to cast out devils and neither is anyone else to do this.  This ought to be a red flag concerning any person who claims the ability to heal the sick: they require a payment be made.  

    We must keep these verses in perspective though.  What was the context?  These instructions were given by Christ during His three year ministry.  First Christ sent His disciples out with quite strong restrictions, and they did not lack in anything.  Then in Luke 22:35-36 we see that He reminded them of this moment in time, and gave them a different set of instructions.

    The apostle Paul wrote about this topic in I Corinthians 9 and spoke at length about the matter of the pastor/preacher of the gospel.  God expects believers to support Christian ministries.  And if I were to appropriate the above two verses today and live them out, then I must also be sure to take this verse as well:

    11: And into whatever city or town you shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide until you leave from that place (10:11).

    Back in the time of the apostles they would enter a city or town and find out who was the outstanding Christian and go to their home to stay while visiting that community.  People had their homes set up to allow others to come and stay for awhile with them.  Today's society has moved away from such things with homes not arranged to allow for long term visitors living there.  Again, Jesus is giving temporary instructions to His disciples.  

    12: And when you come into a house, salute it.
    13: And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
    14: And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet (10:12-14).  

    Some theologians believe that these verses are not applicable to believers today, that they only apply to that time when the disciples were first sent out by Jesus.  But, when we stop and ponder these three verses we can understand that these are things which ought to continue to be done everywhere we go.  If we preach the gospel to a household and the message is openly rejected, are we to persist in presenting the gospel to that household?  The answer is a great big No!  We would be wasting precious time that can't be redeemed, and we would prevent others from hearing the news about their personal salvation.  We are to declare the kingdom of heaven and keep moving.  Some Christians believe that they will persuade atheists to convert to Christianity through sheer perseverance and effort.  It won't happen that way at all.  They are just wasting time and energy that must be spent on reaching out to others who haven't heard the message yet.  

    15: Truly I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city (10:15).  

    We understand what the judgment upon these two cities was, and it will be even worse for any place which rejects the gospel message of Christ.  But that will be for next time my friends.  I hope that you come back tomorrow as I continue studying in chapter ten.  Blessings be yours this magnificent day!  

    ~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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