Weekly Bible Insights

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Weekly Bible Insights

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Revelation 17

June has been declared “Pride Month,” when a lifestyle condemned by God is celebrated by many Western nations as evidenced by the rainbow banners and signs declaring that “hate has no home here.” In such light, Christians are called “haters” and “homophobes.” The laws of Western nations, the shrill messages from the broadcasters and the suppressive powers of social media align to mute and even outlaw the message of Christ.


Is the Church losing the battle? Will the Word be eclipsed in the West? While it may be that the Church could be doing more in this struggle, the outcome is sure: the Lamb and his Church wins.


There are diverse approaches to interpreting Revelation, particularly the many details in chapter 17, but the primary message of the chapter is clear: worldly governments in their splendour and power oppress and persecute us, but they will never conquer Jesus and his Church. 


Late in the first century A.D., when John was granted his revelation, it was Rome who seemed to be conquering the Church. How could those believers, widely scattered and with many poor, survive against the organization, power, and majesty of the Roman empire?


In Revelation 17, an angel of God shows John what majestic and powerful Rome looks like to God, and what her end would be. In his vision, he sees a woman riding a beast. The woman is alluring and wealthy, “arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with jewels and pearls” (v4). She is tremendously influential, having dominion over all the kings of the earth (v18). Her mount is a powerful beast with many heads and many horns (v3). And this frightening duo are fierce persecutors of the Church, with the woman being “drunk with the blood of the saints” (v6).


There is suffering for the Church in this chapter. There is even martyrdom for the name of Jesus. But defeat? Never.


God reveals the reality of this powerful pair. The woman is influential, but she is the “Great Prostitute” and the “mother of prostitutes” (v1, 5). The beast is powerful, but its time is limited and almost over, since five of its seven kings have already fallen and the last set of kings will reign for only an hour (v10-12). Soon the beast will turn on the woman and destroy her (v16).


That’s the end of the woman. What about the beast itself? John in his vision sees the fearsome beast attacking a … lamb. A ravenous fury attacking an image of helplessness. But this is THE Lamb, the Lord of lords and King of kings (v14), along with his people. And the Lamb will conquer the beast.


Rome is no more, but the Church is all over the world: the Lamb conquered Rome. The Lamb will indeed conquer the “post-Christian” West. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. But until then, let us stand fast, resist the temptations of the world and the fear of its might, and show ourselves as those who are “called and chosen and faithful.” (v14).


Prayer


Father, you know the fearsome powers arrayed against us. You know what the days ahead will hold for the church in Canada and the West. Strengthen our faith, that we will trust you come what may. Strengthen our courage, that we may continue to speak about your gospel, your goodness and your ultimate justice. Preserve your Church, and may she be a beacon of transcendent hope and dauntless faith because of her glorious King. In the name of the all-conquering Lamb, we pray. Amen!


Tom Gee

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Isaiah 40

The prophet Isaiah has been instructed to quote the words directly from the mouth of God, “Comfort, comfort my people...speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that her warfare is ended.” This chapter, although a call to reflect on the deliverance of the nation of Israel from Assyrian and Babylonian captivity, is a prophetic look forward to the reconciliation and restoration of lost sinners to God through the work of Christ.


As believers in Christ, we are looking forward to the time when our warfare in the wilderness experience of this world will come to an end. Amidst the din of voices calling out of the chaos in our world, voices of war and political unrest, divisions over covid and increase in the spread of disease, rising food, fuel and housing prices and loss of moral standards, surely, like the nation of Israel in Isaiah’s day, we are in need of a word of comfort from God.


Verse 3 points to John the Baptist, the voice who cried in the wilderness when he saw the Saviour coming towards him, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Just pause for a moment and think about those words... “who takes away the sin of the world.” This is cause for great comfort. The sin of war, the sins of greed and lust for power, the sin of materialism, the sin of strife and the sins of my own heart, are taken away by the lamb of God.


No wonder Isaiah then calls for Zion to ascend a high mountain to lift her voice to testify to the greatness of God (v9), then pours out his heart about the greatness, gentleness, wisdom, glory and incomparable majesty of our GOD (v10-29). Verse 11 bears mention, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms: he will carry them in his bosom.” The hymn writer John East penned these comforting words:


There is a fold whence none can stray and pastures ever green,

where sultry sun, or stormy day, or night is never seen.


There is a shepherd living there, the Firstborn from the dead,

who tends with sweet unwearied care, the flock for which he bled.


In John 14, the Lord Jesus, before he left this earth to go to the Father, promised he would not leave us comfortless, but that He would send another helper (comforter), the Holy Spirit.


The chapter closes with a crescendo of comforting words. Like we sang together on Sunday “strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,” this comfort can be ours here and now, in this life, if we wait for the Lord. After all he has said of the sovereignty of God, Isaiah seems to say summarily:


In this struggle called life, we cannot live in our own strength, we must wait upon the Lord. Then we will have renewed strength, then we shall mount up with wings like eagles, then we will run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.


Prayer


Lord help us to realise and live in the knowledge that you alone are our source of comfort, our source of strength, and our deliverer. We cannot walk without you, and we certainly cannot run the race to victory in our own strength. Help us to learn to wait upon you in this world, even as we await the return of the lamb who died for us to redeem us to yourself. We pray this in the name of Christ Jesus, amen.


Scott Black

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Revelation 3

In chapters two and three of Revelation, the risen, glorified Christ dictates seven letters to seven churches through John, who is in exile on the island of Patmos. In today's passage, chapter three, we have letters to the churches in Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. These letters contain correction, encouragement and promises. Let’s consider these three letters together:


Sardis


To the church in Sardis, John is instructed to write that Christ knows their works, which are incomplete. Although this church had the reputation of being alive, it was actually dead. They are called to repent by waking-up from their slumber, to strengthen what little life remains, and to continuously remember what they have received. Jesus repeats his warning from Matthew 24:43, that he will come like a thief in the night. This would be especially poignant for those in Sardis, since twice in their history they had been captured, not in battle, but by stealth in the night.


There is a ray of hope in Sardis, however, a remnant that have not soiled their garments, who will walk with the Lord clothed in white garments. In pagan temples it was forbidden to enter with soiled clothes, as this could insult the gods. To the Christian, this imagery of unsoiled white clothes represents an outward expression of an inward condition: Christ has made us clean!


The last thing to notice here is the book of life, a theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation. Interestingly, Greek and Roman cities had official rolls of their citizens. New citizens would be added, and the expelled would be removed from the roll. The promise is given that true believers will never be expelled, but we have an eternal citizenship in heaven.

Philadelphia


No correction is given to the church in Philadelphia. Jesus is encouraging the Christian Jews, who have been expelled from the synagogue. In some Roman cities, Jews were exempted from participating in pagan worship. If anyone was expelled, however, they would no longer be considered exempt, and would face persecution if they did not participate.


Verses 7 and 8 harken back to Isaiah 22:22 “And I shall place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” Jesus is claiming the authority to determine who does or does not belong, and it is not dependent on ethnicity but on faith.


Laodicea


Laodicea was a wealthy city, and proud of it. It was known for textiles, medical school, the production of ear medicine, and eye salve. The citizens lived in relative comfort, except for one issue: there was no natural water source within the city. Aqueducts brought water in from hot springs and cold water from mountains, but by the time it travelled to the city, it would be lukewarm, and sickening to drink.


Jesus uses this in his rebuke to the church, essentially telling them that like their water supply makes them sick, their lukewarm works make Him sick! Everything the city could have confidence in outwardly, the local church lacked spiritually. Among other things, He calls them poor, blind and naked. Motivated by love, Christ calls them to repent of their lack of zeal. He invites them into sweet fellowship with Himself, and even to rule with Him in future glory.


Prayer


Father in heaven, we thank you for your word, through which you rule, and through which we know you. We thank you for giving us your Spirit, who quickens our spirits and draws us closer to you. We thank you for your patience toward us, and that you lovingly call us into repentance when we falter. We thank you most of all for your beautiful son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and for His complete work on the cross. May we constantly remember His ultimate sacrifice, and may our works never lack zeal. Amen.


Jason Hopson

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Isaiah 26

Isaiah is an amazing, if perhaps daunting book of the Bible. At first glance you probably noticed that it is long (6th longest book of the Bible), and as a prophetic book, lacks a narrative structure to aid our reading. Yet it is filled with incredible promises of God, long treasured by his people.

 

Through our reading of Isaiah 26 today, we will seek to make Isaiah easier to read and understand, and to rightly understand some of God’s amazing promises.

 

The first rule when reading prophecy, is to follow the rules you may have already learned about effective and helpful Bible reading! So, as with reading any part of the Bible:

 

1. Consider Literary Context


This is a complicated way of saying “read more than one verse at a time.” It is always better to read a whole paragraph, chapter, or book of the Bible, than a single verse on its own. We can get ourselves into trouble when we don’t interpret a verse within its literary context.

 

There are of course other helpful and important principles for Bible reading, but this one gives you a good place to start, no matter where you are in the Bible, including Isaiah 26.


To that rule, we can add one more, specific to prophetic books:

 

2. Prophetic Fulfillment


Understanding whether Biblical prophecy has been fulfilled or not will help us understand it. Has this happened already? Where? How? Or is it yet to come?

 

With those things in mind, we can consider Isaiah 26, and see how these tools can help us.

 

1. Consider Literary Context

 

What is happening around our text? The prophecies of Isaiah go back and forth between judgement and hope throughout the book. This chapter contains both hopeful prophecy (Ch. 25-26:6), and judgement (26:7 and following).

So we should read this section of hope and promise all together, and consider how our understanding changes, when we hear these promises in light of coming judgement.

 

2. Prophetic Fulfillment

 

Has this prophecy been fulfilled? If you read back to Isaiah 24 you will see a whole chapter prophesying a coming judgement on the whole world – which is yet to come. Chapter 25 contains a prophecy of a “Feast of the Nations” on the mountain of the Lord, a beautiful promise that is also yet to be fulfilled. Our chapter is a departure from both judgement and future promise, and mostly considers how we ought to live before these things come to pass.

 

In short, we live by faith. Biblical prophecy calls us to look back on the many fulfilled promises of God, as we trust in him to fulfill his promises to us. God is faithful, he has kept his promises, and he will keep his promises!

 

When we embrace this in faith, we will learn to “trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock” (26:4). When our mind is stayed on him, because we trust in Him, he will keep us in perfect peace, through the difficulty and tumult of life on this earth.

 

Prayer

 

Lord would you help us to trust in you – to lean on the promises you have fulfilled, as we trust in you for your many great and precious promises that are yet to come. We pray that as we grow in faith and trust of you, that you will bring us peace, despite any and every difficulty, trial, and struggle of this life. Amen.

                                                                

Peter Brown

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2 Peter 1

It can be confusing to know the role and importance of continual sanctification in our lives as Christians. We hear so often from passages like Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved through faith, not by works or by our own good deeds, that we may lose sight of the role we play in our continual sanctification. I want to take a look at 2 Peter 1:3-11, to get a better idea of what it means to confirm our calling as Christians, and how we can desire greater righteousness in our lives without being legalistic.


First I want to emphasize that Peter is not contradicting what we know about salvation from elsewhere in Scripture. In verses 3-4 we read:


His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)


Peter argues that we are called to saving faith through the knowledge of Christ that is given to us by God. We are not saved by being righteous, but through the knowledge of Christ. And it is through this faith that we can find such great purpose for our lives. We can leave our old lives of death, knowing that we have escaped the judgment of the world, only because of God’s divine power working in us. So right from the beginning of the chapter, we rest easy knowing that our salvation is not incumbent on our actions.


Peter then moves to introduce his argument for the pursuit of righteousness, when he writes “For this very reason”. Peter makes the argument in these next few verses that the pursuit of righteousness should be our response to knowing that we are saved through faith in Christ. We read in verses 5-7 :


For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV)


Because we are saved through the knowledge of Christ, by his divine power in us, which calls us to his great purpose, our response should be to seek virtue and righteousness. These virtues Peter lists mark a life of righteousness, and without them, we will be ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge. Peter doesn't say that if we don't seek righteousness we forget the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we do become ineffective and unfruitful.


We see as the passage continues that the Christian who lacks the qualities and is not seeking a life of greater righteousness, is not only blind to the future, but they have also forgotten the past. There is so much more to a life with Christ than salvation alone. There is a deep purpose given to the Christian who seeks after Christ and his righteousness, with everything they have. And if one does not seek after greater righteousness, they live blind and in the past. As we read Peter’s words in verses 9-10:


For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:9-10 ESV)


This passage shows us that our actions do not save us, nor do our good works and attempts to be more righteous nullify our past sins. Rather, we see that our sins are ONLY forgiven by Christ, whom we come to a knowledge of because God calls us to himself. However, we are called to be diligent, and to confirm our calling, by our earnest desire and pursuit of greater righteousness.


Christian, you have a finite amount of time in this life to prepare for an infinite future with Christ, so make the most of your time and chase after Christ with all that you have.


Prayer


Dear Lord God, we thank you that we are saved completely by your power and love, and we do not need to earn our own salvation through good deeds. We thank you that you have called each of us to an exciting life of faith and obedience that we can use to glorify you, and make you known.


We pray today that you would remind us of what we have been saved from, and grow in us a desire to pursue righteousness in our lives. We pray that we would not get caught up trying to earn salvation through works, but that we would desire to add to our faith the righteousness that confirms our belief. Amen


Timo Stubchen

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Isaiah 9

Welcome to 740 B.C. The land of Israel has been divided by civil war into the North and the South. The southern kingdom consists of the traditional lands of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah and is simply referred to as “Judah” with its capital in Jerusalem. The ten other tribes making up the northern kingdom is referred to as “Israel.”


Isaiah was a prophet during the time of several kings ruling over the land of Judah. Chapter 9 was written in a time of great turmoil within the divided kingdom. Israel, in the north, having first rebelled against God’s chosen King David, had turned away from the worship of God. Under pressure from Assyria, they had allied with the pagan nation of Syria and were seeking to force Judah into the same alliance (ch 7). Isaiah was sent to reassure Judah that the LORD was their strong defender and that Syria and the kingdom of Israel were relying on false hopes that would fail them (“…the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.” 7:16).


Judah was under great pressure to compromise. Would the king of Judah fear God or would he fear man? They had terrible enemies both far (Assyria) and near (Syria and Israel). Would God really provide? Or was it better to hedge his bets and arrange for some well-armed allies?


God’s promise shines brightly amid pressure and threat. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; … For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder…” (9:2-6)


As we know on this side of the cross, the promise of deliverance was so much greater than Judah realized. For not only was God promising to deliver his people from Syria and Israel and Assyria, but his deliverance would extend to the entire world. God delivers all who take refuge in him through his promised Messiah Jesus.


Sadly, the king of Judah feared and trusted man instead of God. The leader of God’s people negotiated for protection with the Assyrians, surrendering David’s throne to a pagan nation hostile to God (2 Kings 16:7-9). Yet, just as God had said, Syria and Israel’s false hopes did indeed fail them, and they were conquered by Assyria as of 722 B.C.  


It’s now 2022 A.D. And what will we do? We live during a time of pressure and threat from enemies without and within: the world, the flesh and the Devil (1 John 2:14-16). We too have received great promises from God and the Son has indeed been given to us. But not all his promises are yet completed. We live between the start of God’s Kingdom on earth and its fulfillment. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end…” (v7), but we still await the full consummation of the Kingdom, his government and his peace. Will we trust God? Will we resist the temptations and distractions of the pagan world to centre ourselves around God? Will we focus the few days that God grants us to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matt 6:33)? Will we start today?


Prayer


Father, you know even better than we do the threats and temptations that surround us. But in your word you have given us your precious and very great promises. Grant us courage to trust you. Grant us diligence to obey you. Grant us joy that glorifies you. Thank you for your virgin-born Son, for blood-bought mercy, for your present kingdom and the kingdom to come. In the name of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Amen!


Tom Gee

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Hebrews 9

This chapter compares and contrasts the Old Covenant sanctuary (Tabernacle, 9:1-5) with all of its functions and the New Covenant sanctuary, which is where Jesus Christ now ministers, in heaven. The author wants us to understand that the New Covenant sanctuary and the work of the Great High Priest is far superior to any earthly counterpart.

 

God ordained all that was in the Old Covenant: The Tabernacle, its ministers, the priests, and articles (Lampstand, Table of Showbread, Incense Altar and Ark of The Covenant) and regulations. Though divine in their origin and pattern, these were temporary, mere earthly representations foreshadowing better, greater, heavenly realities.

 

The lampstand points to Jesus Christ the Light of the World. The Table and Bread of Presence point us to God’s provision in sending Jesus the Bread of Life. The Golden Altar reminds us of Jesus Christ and his continual ministry of intercession for his Bride. Finally, the Ark of the Covenant reminds us of the blood of Christ shed for us, Jesus being our “mercy seat” or propitiation.

 

Not only were the physical objects symbolic, so were the actions of the priests. They served regularly in the Tabernacle performing their duties, offering sacrifices for sin, both in front of and behind the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. God’s presence was inaccessible to regular worshippers: only the priests had direct access to God the Most High.

 

These earthly objects and functions were temporary, pointing to their heavenly and eternal counterparts. We no longer need the building, the priests, or the regular sacrifices of the slaughtered animals. The animal blood offered as a sacrifice for sin could not change the heart. It did not bring moral purity. There is no remission of sin or purification from sin without the shedding of blood. All of this was fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ who willingly offered himself, as the once for all, final, complete sacrifice for sin. He provides eternal redemption and he changes the human heart.

 

Believer in Christ, our works or sacrifices will never merit the favour of God. This is given to you, imputed to you, because of Christ’s finished work on your behalf. In him you have an eternal inheritance of blessing. His work of redemption is sufficient and is finished. His ministry of intercession is effective and continues. Jesus stands in our place, on our behalf before his Father.

 

Both Covenants were established by blood but Christ is the better sacrifice. He is the mediator of the New Covenant. He is the spotless Lamb of God. His is a one-time sacrifice of his own blood, putting away all sin for all who trust in him. Through Christ we have been cleansed and purified.

 

When Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was torn, opening the way for anyone to come and live in God’s presence. Through his shed blood we have complete access into the Holy of Holies. Therefore, we ought to come boldly to the throne of grace and find God’s grace as we journey through life eagerly anticipating our eternal home in God’s presence.

 

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV)


Prayer

 

Father, thank you for sending your Son to be the Saviour of the world, the new and better way. What we could not do, what sacrifices could never cover, what good works could never earn, Christ has done for us, and we are eternally grateful. Indeed, by the cross, it is finished!

 

Christ is our boast and our hope. In him, the old is gone and the new is come. Come Lord Jesus. We are eagerly awaiting your return, and our homegoing. In your glorious matchless name we pray. Amen.

 

Lead Pastor Jody Cross

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Hebrews 2

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1 ESV)

 

With these opening words from Hebrews 1, we find the first of five admonitions in this letter. This strong warning alerts us to not neglect our salvation, and thereby protect ourselves from drifting away from biblical truth.

 

As you consider your own walk of faith, reflect upon how easy it is to drift spiritually. Isn’t it easy to become distracted, complacent, or comfortable? When we do, significant problems arise in our lives. The devil is all too ready to influence us to neglect God’s Word, prayer and corporate worship. However, as we read in this chapter, the war of the ages was fought and won at the cross, and we stand on the side of the Victor, Jesus Christ who,

 

…himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14b-15 ESV)

 

This chapter helps us to realize how great a salvation we have. This salvation was purchased through the incarnation and death of Jesus at a great cost and provides great blessings and promises. Here we understand that what was given to humanity at creation and subsequently lost in the fall, was restored at the cross, and will be fully realized in glory. Next to the Gospel accounts, Hebrews speaks of the humanity of Jesus more than any other New Testament letter. 

 

In verses 6-9 the writer here quotes Psalm 8:4-6, speaking of the exalted role given to humanity. To Adam and Eve was given the creation mandate, reflecting God’s image as they ruled over creation as God intended and commanded (Genesis 1:26-28). That however, was not fulfilled in Adam, for rather than ruling over creation we were ruined by sin. However, thanks be to God, Jesus shared in our humanity and restored what was destroyed and lost.

 

The great cost paid was Jesus coming to earth in the incarnation. He was made like us in every way, except he was without sin. The Word became flesh (John 1:14), shared our humanity, tasted death for us, and is now crowned with glory and honour at the Father’s right hand.

 

One troubling verse in this passage is this,

 

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10 ESV)

 

What does this mean that Jesus was made perfect through suffering? Was he not perfect? Was he sinful and then was made sinless? Commentators understand this to mean, not that Jesus was sinful but that rather, in his suffering Jesus demonstrated obedience to God’s will, and to the cross, and thus through suffering, fully identifies with humanity and thus fully qualifies as our representative and substitute. Through his work of atonement, Jesus reversed the effects of the fall, defeated the devil and gives life and freedom to a world enslaved and without hope.

 

As brothers and sisters of the Lord, as children of God, as offspring of Abraham, we have this assurance that Jesus has been where we are. He has suffered (like we will never understand). He has been tempted and therefore can help us, coming to our aid as a faithful, merciful High Priest. This is our great salvation; let us not neglect it or the One who gives it.

 

Prayer

 

Father, we praise You for so great a salvation purchased at so great a cost. Hallelujah, what a Saviour is Christ our Lord. Man of sorrows, thank You for all You have done for us.

 

Prone to wander, Lord, we feel it. O conqueror of Evil, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the snares of the evil one. You have walked this road and You can help us. Do help us Lord, we are weak but You are mighty. O come to our aid and help us to live to Your praise. Amen.

 

Lead Pastor Jody Cross

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2 Timothy 3

2 Timothy 3:10–17

 

In this passage, Paul advises Timothy about two types of people, how he should interact with them, and what makes them different from unbelievers. So, to start off, Paul describes the evil men by describing them in this way:

 

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Tim 3:2–5)

 

While this is quite the lamentable list of attributes, Paul condemns these people's way of life saying that they will go from bad to worse, constantly being deceived. There is nothing worth emulating about this lifestyle, it is ultimately vapid and pointless. Paul’s instruction to Timothy is to avoid these people.

 

The next message Paul has for Timothy is different than one of prosperity and pleasure. In verse 12 Paul states that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Paul uses his own life as an example of this when he recalls his persecution at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. This guarantee of persecution for the lives of believers goes back to what Jesus said to his followers in John 15,

 

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:19–20 ESV)

 

As Paul continues, he instructs Timothy to hold onto the Scriptures he has known since he was a child. Why does Paul give such emphasis to Timothy to stay knowledgeable in the Scriptures? Because those Scriptures that Timothy had were God-breathed and they have wisdom that will lead to salvation. And those same Scriptures Timothy had, we have today and they are able to provide us with that wisdom that leads us to salvation.

 

This goes to show the immense importance of the Holy Scriptures in the life of a believer. Loving God and His Word, and obeying God’s truth is ultimately what distinguishes us from a person who emulates the lifestyle of the person described at the beginning of the chapter. Those who love God’s Word and seek to live a life pleasing to Him, when living by the Scripture are a people who are complete and equipped for every good work in Christ Jesus.

 

The Bible teaches us the way of God. It is used to rebuke us in our sin, it will correct our understanding and lead us to righteousness. As we desire to follow after God and lead lives of righteousness, we must remember that persecution is promised for those who follow Christ. The world will love its own and hate those who are set apart for God. Secondly, we must not fear persecution because we have a good God who is greater than the world. He has given us the Bible so that we can know Him and be conformed more into his image.

 

Prayer

 

Dear Lord God, we pray that we would earnestly desire to follow after Christ's example and not live like the world does. We thank you that you are greater than any persecution we may face. We stand firm in the knowledge that you have overcome and that in you we too have nothing to fear.

 

Increase our desire for your Word and may we look to it for instruction and correction. Equip us with your wisdom and prepare us for the good works you have for us.

 

In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

 

Timo Stubchen

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Proverbs 31

Throughout the book of Proverbs are several key character types including the wise, the fool, and the simple. Readers are urged to be the wise, those who know God’s covenant and are developing the skill to live out that covenant through everyday situations. The beginning of wise knowledge is the fear of the LORD, the fear of Yahweh. (1:7)


Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet. It portrays a person who embodies the full character of wisdom in all areas of life, a concrete ideal of wisdom lived out.


Throughout the book, the author has frequently addressed sons, fathers, and other men. So it is unexpected but delightful that for his ideal of fully realized wisdom, he addresses a woman. It drives home the point that the wisdom teaching of Proverbs applies to all of God’s people of both genders.


The passage begins with a rhetorical question -- “An excellent wife who can find?” – which has been answered earlier in the book “a prudent wife is from the LORD” (19:14). The covenant-keeping God is the source of wisdom and wise women. The author launches into a description of a broad range of manual, commercial, administrative, and interpersonal skills in which she shows her excellence.


She works diligently and skillfully with vigour and planning. She shows a broad range of manual skills, working with her hands, planning what is necessary even for the servants to best benefit the household. Her careful preparations and skills enable her and her family not to fear the weather or even the future, but she wears strength and dignity as though they were her own clothes. Her excellent work and her noble character have contributed to her husband being raised to sit with the elders of the land.


Her work is not simply confined to her own household, but she engages in wise and discerning dealing with outsiders, evaluating and purchasing property and returning a profit in her dealings. This is an image of remarkable financial independence for a woman in the ancient world.


Finally, her work is not just to the benefit of her own household, but in generosity and compassion she opens her hand to the poor and the needy. Her home is a place of wise guidance and kind teaching to those seeking direction.


The result? She is praised by her grateful husband and children, including public recognition for her wise excellence. 


The example of the Proverbs 31 woman is formidable. She shows what wisdom looks like fully fleshed out in all parts of life, engaging with diligence and intentionality all the parts of her day and her years, all of her tasks within the family and without. All of us -- men and women -- are challenged and encouraged to a life with the same breadth and depth of intentional wisdom.


Remember, Proverbs began with the note that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of Yahweh. The description of this epitome of wisdom ends by recognizing that she, this excellent and praiseworthy woman, is above all a woman who fears Yahweh. May we too be women (and men) who fear Yahweh and live intentionally in his wisdom.


Prayer


Father, you grant us deep and profound wisdom through your Word, and you enable the living out of that wisdom through your Spirit who lives in us. Give us grace and strength and conviction to live our days and our years, inside our family and outside with others, diligently engaged in loving you above all things, and loving our neighbours for your name’s sake. We ask for mercy and for transformation, in the glorious name of your Son! Amen!


Tom Gee

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