April 17, 2015

A Mini Bible Study In Acts

I recently finished reading the book of Acts and I read these verses:

"Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

'Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

'but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.'

And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,

whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith."    Acts 6:1-7

I thought I'd share what I've learnt from a little deeper study.

So what or who were the Hellenists?

Hellenists: 'Jews who made Greek their tongue, and with it often adopted Greek ideas and practices.'

Bible Verse Study.com says it this way:

"the Hellenists" are the converts among the Jews who had returned to Judea after having lived abroad in the Greek world, and still spoke Greek and had adopted Greek cultural elements."

So these Hellenists were concerned about their widows getting enough food. Maybe even a bit jealous of the attention the other widows were getting.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary writes:
"The complainants were the Grecians, or Hellenists, against the Hebrews —the Jews that were scattered in Greece, and other parts, who ordinarily spoke the Greek tongue, and read the Old Testament in the Greek version, and not the original Hebrew, many of whom being at Jerusalem at the feast embraced the faith of Christ, and were added to the church, and so continued there. These complained against the Hebrews, the native Jews, that used the original Hebrew of the Old Testament. 

Some of each of these became Christians, and, it seems, their joint-embracing of the faith of Christ did not prevail, as it ought to have done, to extinguish the little jealousies they had one of another before their conversion, but they retained somewhat of that old leaven; not understanding, or not remembering, that in Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, no distinction of Hebrew and Hellenist, but all are alike welcome to Christ, and should be, for his sake, dear to one another."

They needed to be reminded they were all one in Christ. And that all Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit, the preachers and the table servers alike.

Now the twelve did not think it was right for them to leave their preaching to take care of this situation so they asked their fellow brothers in Christ to find those who could. They knew they were called to prayer and to spread the Word (the gospel).

This really spoke to me. We are all one body, and each of us have a calling. Whether we are called to preach or keep widows feed, our tasks are important to God.

Just this morning I read this tweet from 'Desiring God'...

"There is no higher calling for you than to be who God called you to be."

How fitting for this post! : )

And because of everyone's obedience in their God-given task many more came to the Lord.

The disciples then chose Stephen, Phillip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.

What is a proselyte?

Proselyte: "a foreign resident, often rendered 'stranger.'

Bible Study Tools.com puts it this way:

"(a stranger, a new comer ), the name given by the Jews to foreigners who adopted the Jewish religion."

So Nicolas would have been a foreigner who converted to Judaism and then later after hearing the gospel, followed Christ.

And finally where is Anitioch?

Antioch is in Syria.

What significance does it have?

"Antioch is important in the early history of Christianity. One of the original deacons of the Apostolic church was Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch (Acts 6:5). The first Gentile church, the mother of all the others, was founded there. Many fugitive Christians scattered at the death of Stephen went to Antioch, where they inaugurated a new era by preaching not only to the Hellenist Jews, but to 'the Greeks also' (Acts 11:20). 

The Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to assist in the work, and he, after laboring there for a while, summoned Paul from Tarsus to assist him. After working there for a year, they were sent with relief to the famine-stricken saints in Jerusalem. 

The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26), a designation probably coming from the populace, who were well-known for their invention of nicknames. The church at Antioch sent Paul and his companions out on his three missionary journeys (Acts 13:1, 15:3, 18:23), and he reported to it on his return from the first two (Acts 14:26, 18:22)."

I found this all so interesting! Especially that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

"...And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." 
                                                                 Acts 11:26

Now I'm into studying the book of Jeremiah and finding it fascinating. God is good. : )

*Note: Matthew Henry's Bible commentary is available online for free HERE

*Note: All quotes are from 'The Compact Bible Dictionary' unless otherwise stated.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

April 10, 2015

The Bible, False Teachings and God

I've been thinking a lot about Luke chapter twenty-four since writing about it at Easter. Particularly verse twenty-seven:

"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself."

This is what Jesus wants for us as well. To teach us about Himself through Scripture.

There are so many voices in the Christian world today, sometimes my head spins with it all!

With those voices are many false teachings and one of those teachings, is that we don't need to read our Bible, rather God wants us to have supernatural experiences to reveal Himself to us.

But didn't I just read Jesus saying He reveals Himself through the Scriptures?

And are not the Scriptures awe-inspired by God?

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 1 Tim. 3:16-17

Is the Word of God not sharper than any two-edged sword?

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

I desperately need the Holy Spirit to guide me through the Word of God, giving me discernment in examining myself and coming to the Truth, not to make me fall on the ground, bark like a dog or see glory clouds, feathers or gold dust coming from the sky.


Really think about that.

Amazing, right? I think so. : )

This is the Red Sea from space taken by NASA

Do a few feathers or gold dust make a miracle that show His majesty? No. These so-called miracles are foolishness. They mock God Almighty. Don't believe it. Even if you see them don't put your trust in them.

I recently stumbled upon and read a review of a book called 'When Heaven Invades Earth' by Bill Johnson of Bethel Church and it taught this very thing...that we should desire spiritual experiences over listening to the Scriptures.

Coming from a Pentecostal background, I was shocked and my heart broke.

It made me cry out before the Lord, Lord help us! Give your people discernment. Bring us back to Your Holy Word and humble us before You.

Here is that review: An Invasion of Error

If you choose to read it, read it slowly and in prayer. It's a long and through one. 

What this book teaches is so subtly wrong, that many don't see it. I have read many books on what the new age movement teaches and I saw many similarities. It was extremely unnerving. It crushed my spirit knowing hundreds of thousands are under these types of teachings.

...Then I started goggling and found that Johnson and his wife promote something called 'grave sucking.' I'd never heard of it before but was absolutely horrified when I saw his wife laying on C.S. Lewis's grave trying to suck up the power of the Holy Spirit through Lewis's dead bones. 

This is occultic. God's Spirit is not in the grave! Let me say that again.

God's Spirit is not in the grave!

God help us! Give us discernment!

Turn our eyes towards You.

I've been praying for several days now and asking the Lord to give me wisdom about all this.

I'm in the middle of reading Tozer's book 'The Dangers of Shallow Faith' and have found great encouragement. Thank-you Lord for Tozer! I really needed to hear what Tozer had to say here.

A.W. Tozer says:

"Men are not willing to let God be what He says He is. They attempt to change, correct, alter and apologize for God, in an attempt to make Him be other than what He is. 

God is, and the angels want Him to be what He is. God is, and the elders and the saints and heavenly creatures want Him to be what He is. 

We had better want Him to be what He is, and conform ourselves to what He is."

And then:

"God is what He is, and we had better learn what God is and then conform our teachings to that truth."

I want to conform to what He is. Nothing more, nothing less.

Many teach less of Christ, rarely speaking of the cross. And others teach more than Christ in their exaggeration of mysticism and experiences.

I want only Him.

And if I want only Him I must conform to Him alone. I must accept everything He says of Himself in His Word. Everything. His love and His judgement. His compassion and His righteousness.

Tozer says here:

"Truth concerning God means that we must accept God's sovereignty, His holiness, His justice, His grace, His love and all that the Bible says about God. Concerning ourselves, it requires that we must believe in ourselves as a fallen image of God - ones who once bore his image, but fell."

And Abraham Lincoln once said:

“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.” 

We must see God for who He is and always contend for His side. We must teach what He taught. We must preach what He preached. Nothing more and nothing less.

Tozer encourages us to read the book of Jude. A book that cries out for us to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Jude writes:

"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3

Tozer says of reading Jude:

"Get your teeth into something. Dare to believe something. And dare to stand for God. In this awful day of so-called tolerance, men are ready to believe anything.

We are not called to always show a smile.

Sometimes we are called to frown and rebuke with all long-suffering and doctrine. We must contend but not be contentious. 

We must preserve truth but injure no man. 

We must destroy error without harming people. In earlier times, when men were wrong, they contented, and in contending, they became contentious. In an attempt to preserve truth, they destroyed those who held error. Let us preserve truth but injure no man."

Tozer is encouraging us to contend for the faith in love.

He continues here:

"Dare to contend without being contentious. Dare to preserve truth without hurting people. Dare to love and to be charitable.

Let us put our chin a little higher and our knees a little lower, and let us look a little further unto the throne of God for Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. 

Let us be courageous, but tender; severe, but kind. And let us pray in the Holy Spirit and keep ourselves in the love of God, building up ourselves in the love of God, building up ourselves in the most holy faith, and win all those we can till the day of the glory and the song."

This is my hearts desire. To contend for the faith in boldness and truth as well as in love and kindness.

And this can only be done through Christ.

My heart does not want you to walk away from this post condemning Bill Johnson or any other, but rather to come away with a desire to search the Scriptures for the Truth. I want you to know the true God and have a heart that conforms to Him and Him alone.

Please pray for discernment. Please cry out for discernment.

Proverbs Chapter Two

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,

So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;

Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;

Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.

For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;

He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,

Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,

To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,

From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;

Who rejoice in doing evil, And delight in the perversity of the wicked;

Whose ways are crooked,
And who are devious in their paths;

To deliver you from the immoral woman,
From the seductress who flatters with her words,

Who forsakes the companion of her youth,
And forgets the covenant of her God.

For her house leads down to death,
And her paths to the dead;

None who go to her return,
Nor do they regain the paths of life—

So you may walk in the way of goodness,
And keep to the paths of righteousness.

For the upright will dwell in the land,
And the blameless will remain in it;

But the wicked will be cut off from the earth,
And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it.
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