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Author Topic: Christ's Ways
Sa:ji:sdo:de
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150) Gal 5:2-3 . . Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

The circumcision spoken of in the passage isn't the common medical kind, but the ritual kind where a man converts to Judaism; which of course obligates him to comply with the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; and not just part of the covenant, but all of it from start to finish.

151) Gal 5:13a . . You, my brethren, were called to be free. But do not use your liberty to indulge the base nature;

Christians are sometimes accused of practicing a religion that gives people a license to steal, so to speak. Well; that is very true to a certain extent because Christians do have immunity from any, and all, of the curses that Israel's covenant imposes on scofflaws as per Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69. However, God prefers that Christians not do whatever they want; but instead do whatever He wants, In other words: Christ's followers have liberty to steal but they don't have a license to steal. (Rom 6:1-13)

152) Gal 5:16 . . I say then: walk in The Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the base nature.

Some years ago, in a boatyard where I was employed on Shelter Island in San Diego, I was listening to a young Christian boast of his dedication to Christ. So I asked him: What about the command to walk in the Spirit? How are you doing with that one?

Well, the brash, pleased-with-himself youngster admitted he didn't even know what that meant, let alone how to do it. (chuckle) In regards to "dedication" Mr. Super Saint hadn't even got to first base yet. (judging by the fact that was on a third marriage last time I checked, I'd have to say he never did get the hang of it.)

Anyway, there's nothing mystical about this. Walking in the Spirit is just simply doing what God wants rather than letting your natural impulses and/or your own thinking control your conduct all the time.

For example: item #1 contains these words: "Abstain from food tainted by idols, from promiscuity, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood." When a Christian complies with those instructions; they're walking in the Spirit; but when they're ignoring those instructions and eating whatever they want and sleeping around without regard for God's feelings about it; then they're fulfilling the lusts of the base nature. It's just that simple.

153) Gal 5:25 . . Since we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

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154) Gal 5:26 . . Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Webster's defines "conceit" as: excessive self-appreciation of one's own worth or virtue.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with having strong core values and/or believing in yourself, but if you should find yourself somewhat indignant and/or resentful when others don't believe in you, or when they think very little of your core values; then watch out because that's a symptom of conceit, and it will hinder you from obeying the Lord's orders in regard to getting along with fellow believers.

The koiné word for "envy" is phthoneo (fthon-eh'-o) which means: hostile toward a rival, or towards someone believed to enjoy an advantage. In other words; we're talking about a competitive spirit-- not the good-natured, friendly kind but a malicious kind of competitive spirit that resents others doing better than itself, or more popular than itself, or more recognized than itself, or more admired than itself; viz; it's all about self.

Rivalry is a very destructive passion. It got Abel slain by his own brother, and it got Christ slain by his own people. Rivalry makes otherwise sensible people behave contrary to their own better judgment, and gets them embroiled in oftentimes unnecessary vendettas; e.g. gender rivalry and racial rivalry. Now those two there are very destructive social influences.

If none of the above describes you; consider yourself fortunate.

The koiné word for "provoke" is prokaleomai (prok-al-eh'-om-ahee) which means to challenge; viz: to get in somebody's face in an obnoxious, assertive, flaming, confrontational manner; which is a kind of behavior that prevents people from deserving identification with God's kin.

†. Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable: for they shall be called the children of God.

155) Gal 6:1a . . Brethren, even if a man is caught in the very act of any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness;

It's very important to keep in mind that "a man" refers to fellow church members rather than the world at large. A big mistake that Christians often make is imposing their beliefs and practices on outsiders; and they're too often not all that gentle about it either.

The restoration process is specifically the turf of "spiritual" Christians. In a church where people are conceited, assertive, confrontational, and embroiled in petty rivalries; the spiritual ones are obviously going to be scarce as California Condors.

A spirit of gentleness obviously precludes the use of bullying, intimidation, rage. yelling, demeaning comments, brow beating, and such. Those kinds of behaviors aren't gentle, no, they're cruel.

The koiné Greek word for "trespass" is interesting. It can refer to willful misconduct and/or to unintentional misconduct. Seeing as how willful misconduct is dealt with harshly and summarily as per 1Cor 5:1-13 while in this situation gently, then I'd say Gal 6:1 is referring to unintentional misconduct; which doesn't merit a public flogging; but rather a quiet talk; and the more private the better in order to avoid embarrassing the unintentional offender.

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156) Gal 6:1b . . each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.

The restorers should keep in mind that nobody's perfect (Jas 3:2). Sooner or later they themselves will slip up and do or say something stupid; so the golden rule is very appropriate in these situations; which reads: "So in everything: do to others what you would have them do to you; for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matt 7:12)

157) Gal 6:1-2 . . Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

That's a tough one because it can be applied any number of ways. I would say (broadly) that if you let someone's burden become your burden (whatever their burden might be) then the other guy won't feel so alone in his bad luck due to no one even caring enough about him to bother understanding what he's going through.

It's human nature to shun people with problems so they don't drag us into a world of inconvenience and/or negativity. But that is not what I call fulfilling the law of Christ; which reads thusly:

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

The love that is defined by "As I have loved you" is a kind of love willing to suffer inconvenience, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and disgrace for the sake of another.

Christ's love isn't a fault-finding attitude; it's a supportive virtue: it doesn't only feel your pain, it gets involved in your pain. Church can be the loneliest place on earth when nobody cares enough about you to get involved in your pain; but instead would just as soon not know about it. Sadly, there is about as much love for one another in modern churches as there is amongst an audience of strangers at the movies.

158) Gal 6:6 . . And let the one who is taught the word, share all good things with him who teaches.

That directive makes good sea sense in areas that don't have a professional clergy. How is a poor preacher to study and prepare his lesson plan, look after church business, attend board meetings, do counseling, and visit the sick while he's spending most of his time and energy earning a living to support himself and his family and to provide a roof over their heads? Church members who feel that their pastor and his associates are valuable contributors to their spiritual needs should reciprocate and help provide for their material needs. It's only fair.

Americans are so greedy for bail-outs, reparations, stimulus funds, and entitlements that they forget that somebody, somewhere has to cough up the money for all that. Well, nobody in church is entitled to a Spirit-endowed pastor; no, he's a gift from God (1Cor 12:4-11, Eph 4:7-13) and pew warmers would do well to show their appreciation to Christ and their pastor by chipping in to help support the man and his family. A Spirit-endowed pastor isn't a freeloader; no, he's an inspired tradesman who deserves compensation. Would you work for free, without wages and benefits? Then don't expect him to.

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159) Gal 6:7-9 . . Don't be deceived into thinking God is a silly old fool. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his flesh, will, of the flesh reap corruption; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let's not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don't lose heart.

The koiné Greek word for "corruption" is phthora (fthor-ah') which means: decay; viz: decadence. Without some means to preserve them, meats and fruits go bad. The very same thing happens to one's character when Christians make a habit of indulging the propensities of their base nature-- psychological entropy sets in and they become decadent. In other words: holiness can't be taken for granted; it has to be nurtured or it'll go bad.

Is "the one who sows to please the Spirit, will, from the Spirit, reap eternal life" saying it's possible to earn one's way into heaven? Answer: No; eternal life isn't a location; it's a state of being. What I mean is: eternal life is both a power and a nature. It's what causes some Christians to undergo amazing personality changes as per Rom 8:11.

The life spoken of as per Galatians 6:7-9 and Romans 8:11-13, is the fruit of the Spirit; which consists of the elements of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Gal 5:22-23)

Love is from the koiné Greek word agape (ag-ah'-pay) which means: affection and/or benevolence. Love is just the opposite of a hard, insensitive heart.

Joy is from chara (khar-ah') which means: cheerfulness

Peace is from eirene (i-ray'-nay) which means: quietness, calm, at rest, content, satisfied, free from mental and/or emotional conflicts; viz: serene.

Longsuffering is from makrothumia (mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah) which means: stable under pressure, composed, not easily disturbed, a disposition to bear injuries patiently.

Gentleness is from chrestotes (khray-stot'-ace) which means: usefulness (to others), viz: moral excellence (in character or demeanor) e.g. kindness and goodness.

Faith is from pistis (pis'-tis) which means; persuasion; viz: credence, confidence, conviction.

Meekness is an editorial insertion not found in the koiné Greek manuscripts.

Temperance is from egkrateia (eng-krat'-i-ah) which means: self-control; as opposed to incontinence, which Webster's defines as: inability to restrain one's carnal appetites.

Those are all elements of the divine nature; which Christians should, according to Peter, make an effort to experience right now, in this life, before they expire and pass on. (2Pet 1:2-11)

But it's important to note that the fruit of the Spirit is supernatural; in other words: this is something that God alone controls; viz: it's dispensed rather than cultivated. The fruit is compensation for making a conscientious effort to please God. One day in heaven, everyone will experience the fruit of the Spirit; but in order to do so now, Christians have to guard against becoming decadent.

†. Eph 5:8-9 . . You were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.

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160) Gal 6:10 . .So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Those who are of the "household of faith" are actually kin; viz: siblings; and like they say: charity begins at home.

Some churches have what they call a deacon's fund. What that's for is to assist members who are down and out and/or in dire straits. Contributing to that fund easily qualifies as sowing to the Spirit; and what I would call a "wise" investment.

And don't overlook your church's senior citizens. Some may be getting up in years and finding it difficult to even maintain their own homes and yards anymore. Chores may not seem like much of a holy calling; but pitch in anyway if for no other reason than that it's neighborly.

161) Gal 6:11-16 . .Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the commandments themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh.

. . . But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor un-circumcision, but a new creation. (cf. Acts 15:5-32)

Some Christians truly believe it's possible to be an adherent of both Judaism and Christianity at the same time (e.g. Messianic Judaism). No, that's against the rules. Judaism must be abandoned if one is to take up Christianity because human sacrifice is illegal under the terms and conditions of the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. If you try to take up both religions at the same time, the one will invalidate the other.

162) Eph 2:11-22 . .Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called uncircumcised by those who call themselves the circumcision-- that done in the body by the hands of men --remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ . . Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household

Christians are prone to forget; and one of the things they forget is that their religion didn't begin with the Roman Catholic Church; no, it was founded by Yhvh's people; and the purpose of Gentiles hearing the gospel is not so they can replace the Jews as Yhvh's chosen people, but rather, so they can join them and share in their blessings.

†. Rom 11:17-18 . . If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, don't boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You don't support the root, but the root supports you.

†. John 4:22 . . Salvation is of the Jews.

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163) Eph 4:1 . . As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

What if a believer refuses to live a life worthy of their calling? Will they be lost? No; believers have eternal life, which is a kind of live that cannot die; therefore, it's impervious to the wages of sin.

†. Rom 6:23 . . The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

People with eternal life have 100% immunity from prosecution.

†. John 5:24 . . I assure you, those who heed my message, and trust in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

164) Eph 4:2 . . Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, putting up with another in love.

Humility is one of those virtues that people love to talk about; but rarely ever seem to exemplify.

The koiné Greek word is a tongue twister. It's tapeinophrosune (tap-i-nof-ros-oo'-nay) which means: humiliation of mind, viz: modesty; which Webster's defines as: free from conceit and/or vanity. I don't know if you've seen the movie
AMADEUS but one thing Tom Hulce's character, Mr. Wolfgang Mozart, sorely lacked was modesty.

Conceit is defined as: excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue; viz: a too-high opinion of one's self; viz : a master-race mentality.

Vanity is defined as: inflated pride in oneself or in one's appearance; viz: narcissism and/or self adoration.

Cosmetics and figure-shaping undergarments don't really qualify as the kind of vanity that Paul is talking about; which is a kind of vanity that goes way beyond just trying to look your best.

Sinful vanity is an ugly creature. It's self aggrandizing. Vanity isn't gentle either, on the contrary, vanity can be quite cruel, thoughtless, competitive, given to rivalry, indifferent, and insensitive; and vanity abhors associating with people whose station in life is decidedly below its own; and God forbid someone below themselves should have the nerve to correct either their conduct or their knowledge.

Patience is a jewel. It's defined as: the power, or capacity, to endure without complaint something difficult or disagreeable. Patient people seem to have a predilection for retaining their composure while under stress. These make the best leaders because they don't get flustered when everything around them is disintegrating into chaos.

Patience is very useful when it comes to "putting up" with certain kinds of rather annoying Christians who seem to have a knack for getting on people's nerves.

During my forty years working as a professional welder, I encountered numerous fellow employees whose skills and performance were excellent; but nobody could work with them. They were just too difficult.

God forbid that Christ's followers should ever be "difficult". It is rather to be desired that they be civil, courteous, thoughtful, sociable, agreeable, helpful, approachable, accommodating, affable, rational, reasonable, temperate, and self-controlled. Christians around whom everybody has to walk on egg shells all the time, are in sore need of a personality make-over if they're to ever have any realistic expectation of associating with God.

165) Eph 4:3 . . Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Peace is what everybody wants but seem thoroughly unable to attain; even in Christian churches, where you'd think that at least there you'd find peace seeing as how it's related to one of Christ's beatitudes.

†. Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called sons of God.

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166) Eph 4:17-19 . . So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the pagans do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

Sensuality and the life of God are diametrically opposed to each other. The one is carnal and the other is spiritual, the one is human and the other is divine. The one does whatever comes natural, and the other does whatever pleases God.

Paul said that pagans live as they do because of the hardening of their hearts which doesn't always refer to ones emotions-- those can be roughly defined as one's bowels (e.g. 2Cor 6:12, Php 1:8, Php 2:1, Col 3:12, et al). Hardening of the heart takes place at the core of one's being; the very attitude of the morrow of their bones; for example the heart of the Pharaoh who opposed Moses and Aaron in the book of Exodus.

Some things are said to be scratch-resistant, fire-resistant, mold-resistance, UV-resistant, rust-resistant, and so forth. Well; a hard heart is God-resistant, really God-resistant. If the highway to Hell could be said paved with sensuality, then the substrate upon which the pavement is laid could be depicted as hard hearts; for example:

†. Zech 7:11-12 . . But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.

167) Eph 4:20-24 . .You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

The koiné Greek word for "desire" is epithumia (ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) which means: a longing.

Epithumia by itself doesn't indicate sinful desires. The very same word describes the Lord's personal longing to dine in the company of his apostles just prior to being crucified. (Luke 22:15)

The kind of longings in view are "deceitful" which is from the koiné Greek word apate (ap-at'-ay) and means delusion, which Webster's defines as: a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self, or persons or objects outside the self, that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary-- in other words: deceitful longings are delusional longings.

For example the old saying "The grass is greener on the other side" which of course is an unreasonable expectation. Some people sincerely believe that they would be happier if only they had more money. Well; sad to say, money can be guaranteed to buy you neither love nor happiness. Delusional longings get people to chasing after brass rings that may or may not satisfy; viz: sometimes the dream is better than the reality. Meanwhile, their life clock is winding down while they're in pursuit of those brass rings and they are steadily becoming more and more secular and unspiritual. Paul "insists" that Christ's followers avoid squandering their time and energy chasing after delusional longings; viz: keep their feet on the ground and their heads out of the clouds.

168) Eph 4:25-26 . . Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Lying to outsiders is one thing, but lying to your fellow believers is absolutely taboo because it's really no different than lying to Christ because his church is his body. (Eph 1:22-23)

169) Eph 4:26a . . In your anger do not sin.

Anger isn't eo ipso evil. It's how one handles their anger that matters. Anger can be a very useful tool when it's applied by somebody who knows what they're doing. For example :

†. Mark 3:5 . . And when Jesus had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man: Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

170) Eph 4:26b-27 . . Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the Devil a foothold.

Ol' Smutty Face is no slouch. You just start holding a grudge, or fly off the handle at the inappropriate time, and you and the Devil will be roped together on the Eiger where your common goal won't be the summit of a mountain in Switzerland; but worse: disunity in the body. No fuming!

171) Eph 4:28 . . He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Isn't is just amazing that early Christian church members were active criminals? Yes, right there in the Ephesian church were thieves. Ironically Paul didn't order the Ephesian Christians to not steal, no, of all things; he ordered them to stop stealing; and not only to stop stealing, but to stop stealing for a living!

You'd think church would be the one place on earth where you'd be safe from crime, but not so. Back in the 1970's I sang bass in the choir of a monster Baptist church in San Diego. The 90+ member choir would meet in a rehearsal room and the ladies would all leave their purses in there when we moved out to be seated in the loft. The room had a very sturdy door and was always securely locked when we left the room.

Well, one Sunday morning when we returned to the room, that Fort Knox door and its lock were smashed open and all the ladies' purses were rifled.

Does cheating on your taxes count as theft? (chuckle) If the Ephesian Christians needed to be told to stop stealing, then modern Christians even more so; don't you think?

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172) Eph 4:29 . . Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

"helpful" is from the koiné word oikodome (oy-kod-om-ay') which means: to build up (as opposed to tearing down).

"foul or abusive" is from the koiné Greek word sapros (sap-ros') which means: rotten, i.e. worthless (literally or morally) viz: inappropriate.

†. Rom 3:13a . .Their throat is an open sepulcher

It's not advisable to open a sepulcher seeing as how the contents are no doubt going to be quite odious and in a state of decay; especially in locales where the remains weren't cremated or treated with formaldehyde.

173) Eph 4:30 . . Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

The koiné Greek word for "grieve" is lupeo (loo-peh'-o) which means: to distress; to make sad. There's a lot being said these days about human rights abuses, while very little to nothing is said about abusing God's Spirit; which is no doubt far more common. (cf. Gen 6:6-7)

Seals aren't always a mark or a tattoo or an impression made in wax with a signet ring. Sometimes a seal is merely a vocal validation. For example:

†. Matt 3:16-17 . . And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

In other words: God vouched for Jesus' credibility by sending His spirit to mark him out, and also by a solemn pronouncement. By that method; God himself personally sealed Jesus' mission; viz: signed off on it; so to speak.

†. John 6:27 . . Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life; which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.

Christ's followers are singled out by the Spirit too; but not with a visible bird or an audible voice, but rather; by the Spirit's occupation inside their very bodies. Christ's followers can't see the Spirit for themselves of course; but God can see it and that's really all that matters anyway in the long run.

174) Eph 4:31 . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.

It wasn't the Lord's wish that Ephesian Christians avoid all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice; no; on the contrary, he wanted the Ephesians to "get rid" of them.

"bitterness" is from the koiné word pikria (pik-ree'-ah) which means: acrid, poisonous, and/or toxic (literally or figuratively)

Christians like that are nothing in the world but deadly reptiles.

†. Rom 3:13b . . the poison of asps is under their lips

"rage" is from the koiné word thumos (thoo-mos') which means: passion (as if breathing hard). Passion is just the opposite of reason; and as everyone knows, emotions are incoherent; so it's to be expected an emotional person is not acting rationally. This is a kind of conduct that Paul says brings sorrow to God's Spirit.

"anger" is from the koiné word orge (or-gay') which means: desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by analogy,) violent passion, ire, (by implication: punishment)

People overcome by orge typically want some satisfaction; even to the point of at least your ruin; if not your death.

"harsh words" is from the koiné word krauge (krow-gay') which means: outcry.

Out-crying is what protestors do; in other words: assertive, in-your-face confrontational complaints and/or demands..

"slander" is from the koiné word blasphemia (blas-fay-me'-ah) which means: to vilify. Webster's defines "vilify" as: (1) to lower in estimation or importance, and (2) to utter slanderous and abusive statements against; viz: defame, discredit, and/or denigrate.

A statement need not be false in order to qualify as slander; it need only to be unnecessary; viz: you'll often hear people say: Well, I was only telling the truth. Were they? No, that's a ruse. In reality, they're insensitive; and they don't care who gets hurt by their thoughtless remarks.

The Lord notices the words people say, and he also takes note of the spirit in which they say them.

†. Matt 12:36 . . But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

"malicious behavior" is from the koiné word kakia (kak-ee'-ah) which means: badness, i.e. (subjectively) depravity, or (actively) malignity, or (passively) trouble:

Malice usually includes the element of "spite" which Webster's defines as: petty ill will, or hatred, with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart. Compare that to the koiné word for "persecute" in the eighth Beatitude which means, literally: to pursue; viz : to stalk, to hound, to harass.

Webster's defines "thwart" as: (1) to run counter to so as to effectively oppose or baffle ; viz: contravene, and (2) to oppose successfully; viz: to defeat the hopes or aspirations of; in other words: to deliberately get in someone's way; block, discourage.

Boy I'll tell you, that Ephesian church was as rough-hewn and crude as the old logging community of Stump Town (now Portland) out here in the Oregon of the 1800's. They cussed, they brawled, they bad-mouthed, they held grudges, they were thieves, they were arrogant, they somehow had the idea that Jews were below them, they were immodest, conceited, vain, and impatient, they walked unworthy of their calling, and they were splintered into cliques.

I've heard more than one expositor boast that the Ephesian believers represent Christ's church at its spiritual peak; but I thoroughly disagree. Yes, there were some outstanding individuals, but by and large the congregation's spiritual condition was decadent, deplorable, despicable, and unbecoming.


BTW: Where is the Ephesian church today? It's gone, just like Christ warned it would be.

†. Rev 2:5 . . Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write . . I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

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175) Eph 4:32 . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

(chuckle) that resembles a line from one of Bill And Ted's adventure movies : "be excellent to each other"

Within the context of the letter Paul wrote and sent to the Christians residing in the ancient city of Ephesus; the objects "one another" and "each other" are exclusive; viz: the comments refer only to one's fellow Bible-believing Christians rather than the world at large. So if you're unwilling to be kind and compassionate to outsiders; at least be so with people at church so as to help prevent church from becoming a hostile worship environment.

The koiné Greek word for "kind" is chrestos (khrase-tos') which means: employed; viz: useful.

Chrestos is found in only seven places in the New Testament, and without exception implies being beneficial to others for their own good rather than a selfish purpose of your own.

The word for "compassionate" is eusplagchnos (yoo'-splangkh-nos) which means: sympathetic.

Webster's defines sympathy as: 1) an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other, 2) inclination to think or feel alike: emotional or intellectual accord, 3) feeling of loyalty: tendency to favor or support, 4) the act, or capacity, of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another, 5) sensitivity, and 6) heart; as in "have a heart".

Eusplagchnos would make a good substitute for a word found in one of the Lord's beatitudes.

†. Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

"merciful" is from the koiné Greek word eleemon (el-eh-ay'-mone) which means pretty much the same thing as eusplagchnos: compassionate and sympathetic.

In my dad's final months of battling with a terminal cancer back in the late 1960's, he was in a great deal of pain and discomfort which made it difficult for him to sleep. In fact, he couldn't sleep in a bed at all. He sat on a small stool and rested face-down with his forehead on a coffee table in the front room.

One day, as we were driving to our week-end ritual of coffee and donuts on a Saturday morning, he complained that his third wife (call her Rosa) seemed indifferent to his condition. He remarked that he didn't want sympathy, just some understanding. Well, I was both perplexed and amused; and asked him: Dad, how can Rosa possibly appreciate your feelings without being sympathetic?

Dad was stumped. The problem was, he never knew his own father; and his mother abandoned him with relatives when he was just a toddler. My dad was a tough, self reliant old ex-Navy farm boy who himself was thoroughly unable to sympathize with anybody. In his prime, Dad was a brutal man, given to outbursts of rage and purple epithets. He was defensive, combative, thoughtless, and quite cruel to animals too. In my dad's mind, sympathy was for panty-waists not for "real men" but there he was in old age, dying of a terminal cancer; and starving for compassion-- something he'd wanted all his life but could never admit.

It used to be that Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were trained to be useful to others as just simply a matter of good deeds and good citizenship. I don't know, maybe they still are; but I've known lots of churchians who were totally useless to others because they're infected with an ugly spirit of conceit, rivalry, and indifference. Far from being kind and compassionate; those Christians are actually sociopathic and don't even know it.

The word "forgiving" is charizomai (khar-id'-zom-ahee) which essentially means: to grant as a favor; viz: gratuitously

Webster's defines gratuitous as: 1) given unearned or without recompense, 2) not involving a return benefit or compensation or consideration, 3) costing nothing: free, 4) not called for by the circumstances: unwarranted, 5) complimentary, 6) gratis, and 7) voluntary. In other words; charizomai seeks no reciprocation; it never says "you owe me one"

Sailors are oft heard to say that the sea is very unforgiving: meaning it allows no room for error or weakness. Christians ought not be like the sea. We ought to be the most forgiving people on the planet; and not because we expect others to reciprocate; but just because we enjoy being gratuitous. For some Christians though, being nice is an effort.

Eph 4:31-32 isn't easy. What we're looking at there is not just good citizenship; no, what we're looking at is something divine in both its nature and its behavior.

†. Php 2:1-2 . . If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

The koiné Greek word for "bowels" is splagchnon. (splangkh'-non) which means : an intestine. Your gut is the very place where you "feel" pity and/or sympathy for others-- that is; if you're capable of those kinds of feelings; not everyone is.

176) Eph 5:1 . . Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

One's dad is probably the most important role model a kid can have, that is, if he's a good man; otherwise, he'll just be another bad influence. It's pretty kool when a kid can look at its dad and honestly say, from the bottom of its heart: "Dad; when I grow up, I want to be just like you".

In this case, the imitator isn't a pretender; no, he's not a stand-up comic mimicking a famous celebrity. What we're talking about here is duplication; in other words: God's children shouldn't just act like Him, they should reproduce Him; so that when the angels observe God's child at work or at play, they can say: "Yep; that kid sure takes after his old man; he's a chip off the old block"

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177) Eph 5:2 . . Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Christ's love goes way beyond just being friendly and helpful. His is a sacrificial kind of love; in other words: it's protective and supportive at the cost of deep expense to himself.

178) Eph 5:3a . . Among you; there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality

I've lost count of the number of celebrities I've seen on television talk shows shacking up with people and boasting about their babies while in reality those children are illegitimate and nothing to be proud of at all.

When my sister got knocked up by a sailor boyfriend back in the late 1950's at the age of seventeen, our parents whisked her off to an aunt out of state to avoid the disgrace. My sister gave up her baby to adoption right out of the womb and nobody back home was any the wiser; but today, who really cares anymore?


FYI: The illegitimacy rate in the USA during 2013 was almost 41% of total births and it's no longer illegitimacy; now it's labeled Non-marital Childbearing. (chuckle) a rose by any name is still the same flower.

My wife once belonged to a woman's group in a mega-church we attended back in 1980. One of the ladies was married to an assistant pastor whose duties included counseling married couples. She told my wife you wouldn't believe the amount of adultery that goes on among married church members, and she wasn't talking about your average rank and file pew warmers either; no, her husband counseled church members a whole lot higher up than that.

That church was very impressive and had something like 4,000 members on the books. It's budget was over $16,000 per week. (The buying power of $16,000 in 1980 was comparable to the buying power of roughly $46,000 in 2015). To look at that church with its buildings, its property, it's programs, its membership numbers, its music, its missionary outreach, and its whopping budget; you would think it housed the holiest collection of saints on earth. But no; behind the scenes, behind the façade, behind the curtain, behind the pulpit; there was moral decadence. (cf. Matt 23:27-28)

†. Ecc 3:16 . . And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. (cf. Matt 23:27-28)

179) Eph 5:3b . . nor any kind of impurity, or of greed

It's so easy to assume that naughty fantasies and porn-like behavior are the impurities that Paul is talking about; but any behavior associated with sin is an impurity. So then, maybe you're an usher in church; but are you dishonest? And maybe you sing in the choir, but are you a malicious gossip? And maybe you attend mid-week prayer meetings; but do you deny your children even common courtesy and their fundamental human rights? And maybe you teach Sunday school, but do you go over the speed limit, feed parking meters, J-walk, and drift through stop signs? And maybe you even stand in the pulpit; but do you have a drinking problem?

Webster's defines "greed" as avarice; which is an excessive, or insatiable, desire for wealth or gain. Greed is associated with biblical covetousness. Just simply wanting money isn't sin. It's wanting money simply for the sake of accumulating it that's covetousness. Ben Franklin once said a penny saved, is a penny earned; but to greedy people a penny saved is a penny stockpiled. Were you to ask a greedy person to name the dollar figure that would satisfy them, they would likely respond: "more"

180) Eph 5:4 . . Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

The koiné Greek word for "foolish talk" is morologia (mo-rol-og-ee'-ah) which means silliness; viz: buffoonery.

Webster's defines a buffoon as: 1) a ludicrous figure; viz: a clown, and 2) a gross, and usually ill-educated stupid person; viz: an ignoramus. I think I would put gross high on the list of undesirable buffoon-type behaviors. It's okay for kids to be gross, but thoroughly unbecoming for a mature adult.

The word for "coarse joking" is eutrapelia (yoo-trap-el-ee'-ah) which means witticism in a vulgar sense; viz: ribaldry. Double entendres would probably fall into that category along with suggestive remarks.

The word for "thanksgiving" is eucharistia (yoo-khar-is-tee'-ah) which means: gratitude; viz: grateful language.

You know "thank you" is not a dirty word. Christ's people should never take the attitude that just because somebody is doing their job that they don't deserve recognition.

One of my favorite romantic comedies is "No Reservations" starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. Prior to filming, Catherine took a job waiting tables to get a feel for working as a waitress. On several occasions, patrons didn't even look up at her nor speak in a cordial tone when they ordered. It struck her as remarkable that the people whom she was serving had absolutely no inclination to even so much as acknowledge her as a fellow human being.

A believer friend of ours once related to my wife that in the restaurant where she worked, a church group would meet once a week. They were noisy, they made a mess, they overstayed, and they ordered practically nothing but coffee and tea. They never left a tip; not one time. Those churchians were just as miserly and ungrateful as cranky old Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Story.

†. Heb 12:28 . . we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear

It's not uncommon for people to ask: What is grace? Well; you're likely to hear any number of definitions; but we just listed a number of grace's aspects: concern for the welfare of others, generosity, morals, marital fidelity, clean speech, maturity, gratitude, and a sensible attitude towards wealth. Those aspects easily qualify as serving God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

What is reverence and godly fear? Well, a rough-hewn definition is: having a high enough opinion of God's core values to adopt them for your own and put them into practice.

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181) Eph 5:5-7 . . For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-- such a man is an idolater --has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with futile words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be numbered among them.

That directive follows Eph 5:3-4; which lists things that are "improper for God's selected people" and "out of place" viz: inappropriate and unbecoming. (cf. Rom 12:1-2)

So then, what if a believer is immoral, impure and/or greedy? Will they be disowned and sent off to Hell? No, of course not. Believers have been emancipated: they have 100% immunity. Hell is for disbelievers, not believers. For beneficiaries of the new covenant, this is actually a non issue.

According to the literal wording of the new covenant as per Jer 31:31-34, God is not keeping a record of sins with which to slam Christ's believing followers

†. 2Cor 5:19 . . God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them

The Greek word in that passage for "imputing" is logizomai (log-id'-zom-ahee) which means to keep an inventory; in other words: an indictment.

At the great white throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15, the dead's personnel files will be opened. Well, were one of Christ's believing followers to appear before God at that event, their file would contain not one single sin: zero; viz: nothing with which to charge them.

†. Rom 4:8 . . Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.

†. John 5:24 . . I assure you; those who listen to my message, and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. (cf. Heb 8:6-12)

However:

†. Gal 5:13a . .You, my brethren, were called to be free. But do not use your liberty to indulge the base nature

To send a believer to Hell for indulging the base naturel would be inconsistent with the principles of redemption; which is from the koiné Greek words exagorazo (ex-ag-or-ad'-zo) which means: to buy up; and from lutroo (loo-tro'-o) which means: to ransom, and from apolutrosis (ap-ol-oo'-tro-sis) which means: to ransom in full.

Christ sacrificed his life to ransom sinners in full from Hell while they were sinners; not after they first cleaned up their act in order to deserve it.

†. Rom 5:6-9 . .Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now satisfied justice by his blood, how much more shall we be spared God's wrath through him!

When ransomed sinners indulge the base nature; they put themselves at risk of discipline (1Cor 10:1-15, Heb 12:5-13) an untimely death (1John 5:16) loss of reward (1Cor 3:13-15) and the status of yard debris. (John 15:1-7) but never hell.

That wayward son in Luke 15:11-32 was maybe out of touch with his father, but he never stopped being his father's son. There are some ties that just can't be broken.

†. Rom 8:15-16 . . For you have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we call out: Abba! Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are God's kin.

†. Eph 1:4-7 . . He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

†. 1Thss 5:9 . . God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Liberated sinners are already citizens of the kingdom.

†. Col 1:13 . . He has rescued us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear son.

The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). However, a higher law overrules the wages of sin.

†. Rom 8:1-2 . .There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death

†. Rom 8:33 . .Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us.


NOTE: An acquittal can be defined as an adjudication of innocence when there is insufficient evident to convict. An acquittal is much better than a pardon because it leaves nothing on one's record to hold against them at a later date; whereas a pardon does nothing to expunge one's record.

182) Eph 5:8-9 . . For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

Some Christians just can't seem to get it through their thick skulls that when somebody pins the Christian label on themselves, they're supposed to act like one.

†. Matt 5:16 . . Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

†. Rom 6:1-2 . . Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? God forbid! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

†. 2Tim 2:19 . . Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

†. 1John 1:6 . . If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.

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183) Eph 5:10 . . Find out what pleases the Lord.

This particular process of discovery has to include researching the Old Testament or one's finding will be incomplete.

†. Rom 15:4 . . For whatever things were written before were written for our learning

†. 1Cor 10:11 . . Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

184) Eph 5:11-12 . . Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of what the disobedient do in secret.

For an example of this directive, Genesis is mute about the despicable things that the Sodomites lusted to do to the two men lodging at Lot's house. It's as if the author drew a curtain over Sodom and said: This is just too shocking. I'm not going to spell out what the people of Sodom had in mind that night. You will just have to use your imagination.

Jude simply, and concisely, says that they were utterly unchaste; even to the point of having their way with innocent visitors. (Jude 1:7)

I think it's fair to ask just exactly how one might "expose" shameful deeds without at least identifying them and/or describing them to some degree.

The koiné Greek word for "shameful" is aischron (ahee-skhron') which means: indecorum.

Webster's defines "indecorum" as: impropriety. In other words, despicable acts should never be described explicitly in polite company, nor in the presence of children; which quite obviously precludes the use of a pulpit for explicit descriptions since congregations are an amalgam of men, women, wives, dads, moms, and underage children.

I don't think the Lord's directive forbids any and all mention of despicable acts. In other words, his directive doesn't say that I cannot tell polite company that the Bible condemns the conduct of pedophiles, gays, lesbians, transvestites, and porn stars just so long as I don't start describing, in all their lurid detail, the revolting things they do to, and with, each other in private and/or on film or in front of an audience.


FYI: There's a relatively new kind of impropriety on the rise called "upskirting' wherein voyeuristic men, and young males too, position a digital camera, or a device with similar capabilities, where it can take a photograph up inside a woman's, and/or a girl's, dress. Men have even upskirted girls as young as 13.

So far the practice hasn't been ruled a sexual crime; just an invasion of privacy. But God forbid any man, or boy, wearing the Christian label amuses himself in that manner. It's not gross; but it is unbecoming; and most certainly unloving too.

†. 1Thes 5:22 . . Abstain from all appearance of evil.

In other words: even if something isn't necessarily immoral; if it looks bad; don't.

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185) Eph 5:14 . .Wake up, O sleeper! . . rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Some Christians just don't care. They don't think obedience to their Lord's commandments is all that important. They're indifferent, half-hearted, half baked, asleep at the wheel, off-reservation, in their heads, in their own little world; and totally oblivious that they're being of no use to Christ at all.

186) Eph 5:15 . . So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.

"Wise" of course meaning to live your life in such a way that it counts for Christ instead of only counting for yourself and/or counting for the world. For example: if you get pulled into the worlds of corporate management and political activism; I can just about guarantee that your life is not counting for Christ because those are really big distractions and sometimes its players have to play dirty to survive.

187) Eph 5:17 . . Do not be uninformed, but understand what the Lord's will is.

In other words: Christians are not supposed to fly by the seat of their pants, but rather, fly by instruments: viz: fly intelligently; and that entails reading a driver's manual before attempting to operate a car, so to speak.

Moses told Yhvh's people that there is no need to go on a special "golden fleece" quest to discover what the Lord's will is; either out in space nor across the ocean in a foreign land. No, the Lord's will is easily accessible between the covers of even the cheapest second-hand Bible on the shelves of a thrift store.

However; no Bible-- no matter how cheap, nor how expensive, nor what version-- is of any real use if it's not studied. But even systematic Bible study is quite thwarted when the information isn't retained.

†. Jas 1:22-25 . . Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.

188) Eph 5:18 . . Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

If more Christians would comply with that decree there wouldn't be so many of them in Alcoholics Anonymous. I've heard of studies indicating that some people have a genetic weakness for alcohol. Nevertheless, genetic or not, drunkenness is sin and Christians are under orders to subdue it.

†. Col 3:5 . . So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.

Eph 5:18 doesn't forbid drinking; only getting drunk. Why do people get plastered anyway? Isn't it to make themselves feel good and better able to cope with life's difficulties? Alcohol therefore could be said to be an antidote to one's existence.

†. Prv 31:6-7 . . Liquor is for the dying, and wine for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.

Some of us seem born with a melancholy disposition but that's really not the same. Real depression will literally drive you to suicide. I know because I've been there.

So in that respect, pills and alcohol are a crutch. I'm not saying a crutch is a bad thing; I mean, after all, God created Eve as a crutch for Adam so then if all crutches are bad, then women are bad too. No, crutches per se are not bad; it's one's choice of crutch that matters; e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, valium, Prozac, overeating, etc.

God's Spirit is supposed to be a crutch for believers; but His effectiveness as a crutch is found only in something called the fruit of the Spirit.

†. Gal 5:22-23 . . The fruit of the Spirit is joy, peace, and self control.

Two elements of the Spirit's fruit that have a powerful influence on a believer's well-being in life are Joy and Peace; which are obtained out of a bottle for only a short time; and are actually chemically dependent rather than supernaturally dependent.

But joy and peace come at a price.

†. Rom 8:13 . . If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live

In other words; Christ's followers should not expect to obtain the Spirit's joy and peace when their conduct is unbecoming.

189) Eph 5:19 . . Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs: singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord

That verse is actually pretty good justification for a church choir; but I really think it should also be used to justify hymn books in the pews too so the congregation can sing together. And make very sure the object of your music is Christ and/or his Father rather than other kinds of celestial personages; e.g. saints and angels.

190) Eph 5:20 . . Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The essential point to note is that Spirit-filled believers give thanks to God the Father rather than to Mary the so-called Mother of God (cf. Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6) and they give their thanks in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ rather than in the name of a patron saint.

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191) Eph 5:21 . . Submit to one another out of respect for Christ.

The koiné Greek word for "submit" is hupotasso (hoop-ot-as'-so) which means: to subordinate (as a verb) which is just the opposite of dominance, equality, and/or rivalry and competition.

A workable synonym for the kind of submission we're talking about here is "deference" which Webster's defines as: (1) respect and esteem due a superior or an elder, and (2) affected, or ingratiating, regard for another's wishes; viz: honor.

This isn't about a pecking order. It's about regarding others as not equal to yourself, but actually better than yourself; and it pleases Christ to do so; besides just being just plain old good Christian manners.

†. Matt 18:3-4 . . Whoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Little children in that day were minors who had little or no social status at all to speak of. If somebody abused a minor; it was just too bad since there were no Child Services bureaus to defend them. Minors were typically among the ruled rather than among those who do the ruling; and they got like zero-to-none respect from their elders.

In other words, an imperious believer-- one that's assertive, bossy, take charge, demanding, argumentative, quarrelsome, impudent, conceited, domineering, confrontational, manipulative, reactive, independent, non negotiable, opinionated, obstinately or intolerantly devoted to their own opinions and prejudices, stubborn, and insistent upon their own way --is definitely a failure at subordinating themselves to their fellow believers in a manner consistent with the Lord's instructions.

192) Eph 5:22 . .Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

The koiné word for "submit" in this verse is the very same one we just discussed, and never means that wives take orders from their husbands like in some sort of despotic monarchy. We haven't changed the subject; in point of fact we're actually being redundant because what we're talking about here is deference rather than obedience. An attitude of deference is mandatory for Christians on both sides of the gender aisle-- both men and women.

We should emphasize that these instruction are only for Spirit-filled couples. They're not for the average rank and file pew-warming couple, nor for the world's couples at large.

First of all; Spirit-filled wives walk in the fruit of the Spirit; which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control. That alone filters out most wives. And they also speak to themselves with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; making music in their hearts to the Lord rather than going around with a grumpy disposition all the time with a cross look on their face.

Spirit-filled wives don't strive for equality, nor do they compete with their husbands as rivals for supremacy, nor do they have to be right all the time. And most importantly, a Spirit-filled wife treads lightly on her husband's feelings.

A wife that's independent, quarrelsome, complaining, fault-finding, chafing, hostile, violent, carping, dominating, manipulating, critical, thin-skinned, defensive, assertive, aggressive, thoughtless, insensitive, loud, stubborn, difficult, cruel, gender-biased, confrontational, always clamoring about empowerment, and harboring a "I am woman! Hear me roar!" mentality is not the Lord's concept of deference.

A deferent wife is gracious, cordial, affable, approachable, temperate, genial, sociable, ready to turn the other cheek, generous, charitable, altruistic, tactful, sensitive, sympathetic; and above all coherent, reasonable, and rational rather than incoherent, emotional, and reactive.

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193) Eph 5:23-24 . . For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

People-- Christians, no less --have tried to circumvent that commandment by quoting Paul to refute Paul; for example:

†. Gal 3:26-28 . . For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

But if we were to make Gal 3:26-28 a rule in civil affairs; then Christian marriages would be same-sex unions; and that, to say the least, is quite laughable.

If a Christian wife cannot treat her husband with the respect due him in accordance with Eph 5:21 then she should at least try to treat him with respect in accordance with Eph 5:23-24; in other words; treat her husband the way she would treat Christ were he the one sharing a home with her.

They say familiarity breeds contempt; and I'm afraid that a good number of Christians have gotten so accustomed to thinking of Christ as a sibling that they've forgotten he's primarily a monarch.

Though both husband and wife are equals as believers, and equally Christ's subjects, they are definitely not equals as man and wife. A Christian wife who humiliates her husband in any way literally humiliates Christ when she does so; and gives herself away that she's neither walking in the Spirit nor filled with the Spirit.

Men and women have very different needs as regards to respect. Shaunti Feldhahn, author of "For Women Only" relates a survey taken among segregated groups of men and women with this question : Given a choice; would you rather be disrespected, or would you rather be alone and unloved in the world? The majority of the ladies chose disrespect rather than living alone and unloved in the world while the majority of the men chose to live alone and unloved rather than be disrespected.

A young bride just starting out, and not caring how important respect is to men, will have no trouble turning her husband's marriage into a living hell for him without even half trying.

So then, what's one thing that every Spirit-filled wife can do to please Christ? Simple. Respect her husband. And don't respect him only if he earns your respect: no, respect him all the time just as you'd respect Christ all the time were he your husband. A wife cannot expect a husband to love her unconditionally when she won't make an effort to respect him unconditionally.

A very disturbing display of husband-wife disrespect took place in my own home. My wife and I used to baby-sit for a couple at church whenever they were away. When they came over one night to pick up their kids, my son and theirs were playing a really good Nintendo game. The daddy informed the kids it was time to go, and in customary kid-fashion they ignored him and kept playing their game. So he became gruff and ordered them out to the car.

His wife then proceeded to come down on him like the wrath of God and exclaimed: You're yelling at them in front of the Webers! Well, guess what? Mrs. Self-Righteous-Christianette was lecturing her husband in front of the Webers; and if you could have seen the look on his face you'd know that her husband was not going to get over the effects of his wife's public scolding for a long while to come; if ever.

You know, kids get used to their parents demeaning them in front of others. To kids, it's just a fact of life. However, I seriously doubt there's a husband on earth who can get used to his wife demeaning him in front of others.

†. Prv 14:1 . . A wise woman builds her home; a foolish woman tears her home down with her own hands.

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194) Eph 5:25a . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church

Love and Like don't necessarily go together. For example: One of my favorite lines from a NetFlix series called Downton Abbey goes like this: "As my son I love you; but I have tried, and failed, to like you".

Christ's love for the church is expressed in the grammatical past tense. This, I believe, is because it refers to his crucifixion; which is an illustration of the kind of love I quoted from Downton Abbey.

†. Rom 5:8 . . God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

†. 1John 4:10 . .This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

In other words: the benefit of Christ's crucifixion isn't limited to his buddies, rather, is extended to the entire human world, both the likable and the impossible to like. This is what Eph 5:25a is talking about.

There are toxic wives out there who do not deserve their husband's affections; and in fact have done all in their power to poison them. Nevertheless, it is his Christian duty to continue to look after her, and to treat her as if she were a buddy in spite of the fact that she is impossible to like.

I can't imagine a sadder or sicker marriage than one wherein a husband is nice to his wife out of a sense of duty rather by affectionate feelings.

195) Eph 5:25b-33a . . He gave himself up for the church to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

. . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- for we are members of his body.

. . . For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery-- but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself

We're not talking about narcissism here. This is about care and concern for someone's survival; viz: meeting their needs.

196) Eph 5:33b . . and the wife must respect her husband.

We're not talking about admiration here. The Greek verb for "respect" is phobeo (fob-eh'-o) which essentially refers to fright; and is used just that way in numerous places throughout the New Testament.

Some translators render phobeo as "reverence" which Webster's defines as honor or respect; felt or shown; which means that wives don't especially have to like their husbands in order to respect them. A show of respect will do in lieu of felt respect. In other words: the Christian wife would do well to stifle the disgust she feels for her husband and be civil.

I overheard a female caller on radio imperiously announcing to Dr. Laura that she couldn't respect her husband. So Dr. Laura asked her why. The caller responded: Because he hasn't earned my respect. So Laura asked the caller: Have you earned your husband's love? The caller retorted: I don't have to earn his love. It's a husband's duty to love his wife just as she is. So Laura pointed out that the caller was practicing a double standard. She demanded that her husband love her unconditionally, while refusing to respect him unconditionally. And on top of that; had the despotic chutzpah to dictate the rules of engagement regardless of how her husband might feel about it.

That is not the Lord's concept of a Spirit-filled relationship. It doesn't even exemplify the Beatitudes and/or the Sermon On The Mount let alone the quality of unselfish love that Christ exemplified on the cross.

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197) Eph 6:1 . . Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

The primary reason given for children obeying their parents is simply that it's the right thing to do.

There's a lot of grown-ups out there who have problems with authority; and those problems began very early, right in their own homes. They were demon seeds who refused to accept their parents as superiors; and they themselves as subordinates.

The parents of that command are "in the Lord" in other words, this rule doesn't pertain to kids with secular parents; which is a good loop hole because there may come times for kids to disobey their parents out of loyalty to a higher power. (cf. Matt 4:10, Matt 10:37)

The koiné Greek word for "obey" in that verse is interesting. It's hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o) which means to pay attention; viz: to heed; to mind.

Not only is minding one's parents the right thing to do, but minding has its benefits.

198) Eph 6:2-3 . . Honor your father and mother-- which is the first commandment with a promise --that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

The koiné Greek word for "honor" in Eph 6:2 is timao (tim-ah'-o) which means: to prize; viz: to fix a valuation upon; to revere. The very same word is used at Matt 15:4-6 where Jesus related the fifth commandment to caring for one's dependent parents.

Incidentally, have you noticed how little respect parents get from their insolent progeny in modern television sit-coms, Hollywood movies, and advertising? It's a reflection of modern American culture's attitude towards doing what's right. Kids today are encouraged to do what's wrong in their homes instead of doing what's right. Modern entertainment trains children how to be demonic instead of divine.

Kids that mind and respect their parents are usually much the happier for it. The ones that fight with their parents typically end up living in a home from hell; and though they may live long and prosper, life will not go well with them, nor will they enjoy it as they might have.

As kids get older, especially here in tech-savvy America, they tend to regard their parents as dunces. That is a fatal error. The Lord's kids have got to be on guard against that attitude; not only because it's wrong, but also because it hurts parents deeply to be treated as morons by their own flesh and blood. Impudent children just won't understand how deeply it hurts until they become parents themselves; but by that time; it's too late and the damage wrought is permanent.


FYI: Webster's defines "impudent" as: marked by contemptuous or cocky boldness or disregard of others; viz: insolent. In other words: an impudent child is a sociopath.

Let me caution the Lord's kids about something. The one thing you don't want to do in this life is accumulate an archive of regrets because as sure as you're reading this line, those regrets will haunt you in later years and rob you of peace of mind; and one of those ugly little robbers is cruelty. Never be cruel to your "in the Lord" parents. It will cost you. Here's a brief list of cruelties to avoid:

Thoughtless remarks, demeaning comments, ridicule, sarcasm, sneering, scorn, wiseacre retorts, toxic rejoinders, mockery, fault finding, and name calling. Consider those a starter kit.


BTW: Regardless of a believer's age-- whether a child or an adult --it is required that they love their "in the Lord" parents, not as themselves, but as Christ loves them (John 15:12). Why? Because a believing child's believing parents are fellow lambs and siblings in Christ's sheepfold; that's why. So then, Christ's directive to love the other lambs as he himself loves them applies to one's "in the Lord" parents too.

Q: If a Jewish child accepted Christ as the Messiah, against the wishes of his Jewish parents, wouldn't that be breaking of the fifth commandment?

A: I seriously doubt the fifth commandment was intended to prevent one's children from making their own decisions. If it did, then where would it end? Would it grant a domineering Jewish mother carte blanch to dictate every facet of her offspring's life including their spouse, their career, their clothing, their friends, the city they live in, the food they eat, their vote, their political party, the length of their hair, even how they raise their own kids? In short, a carte blanch interpretation of that commandment would rob one's progeny of not only their individuality; but also their own personal responsibility.

Q: You really don't think it's disrespectful for a Jewish child to reject their parents' religion?

A: No, that would be disrespect for the parents' religion, not disrespect for the parents. To my knowledge there are no divine commandments requiring children to either accept or adopt their parents' core values.

One's attitude towards their parents and how they treat them is the issue. How anyone can come to the conclusion the fifth commandment somehow grants parents the powers of tyranny, mind control, and despotism is beyond me.

†. Matt 10:34-37 . .Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 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. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Christ drew a line in the dirt with that statement: in other words, who will you serve? . . . me or your parents? Nobody's parents, whether Jewish or Christian, have the right to demand a child's loyalty over and above their loyalty to God.

†. Ex 20:3 . . Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. (cf. 1Cor 8:4-6)

†. Mark 12:30 . . Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. (cf. Deut 10:12-13)

†. Acts 5:29 . .We must obey God rather than men.

If a conscientious Jewish child sincerely believes their parents' religion is wrong, then they have a duty to God and conscience to break with Judaism. I'm not saying they should break with the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Deut 29:9-15. No; that's a horse of another color.

Those very same principles all apply to Christian denominations. For example: if a child should come to a realization one day that his parents' Roman Catholicism is a doctored version of Christianity, then he has a duty to God and conscience to seek spiritual guidance elsewhere.

†. Rom 14:5 . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

†. Rom 14:23 . . whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

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199) Eph 6:4 . . Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

We're not talking about religious training here-- the focus is upon a daddy's parenting style. Despotism, tyranny, and unfairness are not the Lord's way of raising kids; but rather; his way is the manner of a shepherd; and "good" shepherds aren't cruel to their flocks.

Maybe you don't burn your kids with cigarettes, pour Tabasco sauce in their eyes, or lock them in a hall closet without food and water for two days; but do you ignore their opinions, demean them with denigrating labels, ridicule them, threaten their lives, work them as slaves without compensation, deny them things just so you won't appear to indulge them, and/or say "no" to their requests for no good reason than that you don't want to seem weak and under their control? Do you routinely violate their human rights, and/or relegate them to the level of livestock rather than bona fide human beings with feelings and a mind of their own? Do you nurture within them a feeling of importance, of belonging in your home, or do you make them feel like an invasive species and/or an uninvited guest? Kids pick up on things like that.

But aren't there moms out there exasperating their kids? Of course! Mothers can be just as tyrannical, despotic, and unfair as dads.

I believe it is a Spirit-filled dad's sacred filial duty to defend his children from their own mother's abuses should the need arise. Not many dads are willing to do that because it means risking having the wife turn against him; so quite a few dads opt to sacrifice the children in order to keep momma happy. In my opinion, throwing one's own children to the wolves in order to avoid living in the same house with a moody woman has to be one of the worst possible sins a man can ever commit in his own home. It's just downright cowardly; and tells the kids they can't trust the one man in the whole world upon whom they should be able to rely in times of distress.


FYI: the Bible predicts that towards the end, parents will become callous with their babies.

†. 2Tim 3:1-3 . . This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For people shall be . . .without natural affection

The koiné Greek word for "without natural affection" is astorgos (as'-tor-gos) which means: hard-hearted towards kindred.

200) Eph 6:5-6 . . Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.

The koiné Greek word for "slaves" is doulos (doo'-los) which is an ambiguous word that can mean slaves by voluntary or involuntary means. The first would be something like an indentured slave; which Webster's defines as : a contract binding one person to work for another for a given period of time. Jacob is a good biblical example of indentured slavery. He sold fourteen years of his life to uncle Laban in exchange for Rachel's hand in marriage. (Gen 29:18, Gen 29:27)

The practical application applies to giving one's employer an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. But pay is not really the primary issue. Subordination is the primary issue, and has been in this epistle since 5:21. Believers may not like the idea, but they are not independent agents with Christ; no, he owns you: bought and paid for as flesh on the line.

†. 1Cor 6:19-20 . .You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

So then, a Spirit-filled employee will serve workplace employers with a conscientious regard for their indentured-slavery status with Christ; which is really difficult for American believers because their country has such an abhorrence for slavery and such a high regard for freedom, revolution, and independence. But though believers are slaves to Christ, they are not slaves to a slave driver. Note the gentle demeanor of the request below.

†. Matt 11:28-30 . . Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

†. Rom 12:1-2 . . I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice-- holy, acceptable to God --which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I once worked with two Christian men in a welding shop who demanded a sit-down with the superintendent to air some grievances. I took it upon myself to remind them that Peter directed Christians to endure what they thought of as unfair treatment from employers (1Pet 2:18-25). Well, they ignored both me and Peter because they felt insulted to be treated like children by management and wouldn't rest until they told them so.

What you have there is a case of rabid male pride overruling the Lord's wishes. Not good. Peter was given the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16:19). If Christians believe that to be true, then for them, scorning Peter is all the same as their scorning Christ-- it's a domino effect all the way to the top.

†. Luke 10:16 . .Whoever listens to you; listens to me. Whoever rejects you; rejects me. And whoever rejects me; rejects the one who sent me.

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201) Eph 6:7-8 . . Slaves, serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord instead of men.

If believers wish to hear the Lord say "Well done thou good and faithful servant" then fighting with management is simply out of the question. No, don't fight, instead: bite the bullet.

†. Php 1:29 . . For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.

†. 1Pet 2:18-24 . . Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not reciprocate; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

Now there's a good, practical application of turning the other cheek.

202) Eph 6:9a . . And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven,

The "masters" in that verse are limited to believing masters, not the world's.

If there is one political axiom that rings true in every generation, it's that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It's in the human heart to abuse authority and to oppress and exploit people rather than manage them to everyone's advantage.

Believing masters, and believing slaves, are siblings in God's family. Therefore, Christ's law is to be exemplified by both the slave and by his master.

†. John 15:12-13 . . My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

In other words; if it's required to lay down one's life for one's Bible-believing Christian brothers; is it too much to ask to swallow one's pride?

A slave master willing to sacrifice his life to protect his slaves would be a very unusual master; but that is the very attitude of a Spirit-filled master towards his believing slaves; and should be the attitude of a Spirit-filled supervisor towards his believing employees: which is the attitude of a good shepherd rather than that of a self-serving predator.

†. John 10:10-13 . .The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

. . . But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

203) Eph 6:9b . . and there is no favoritism with him.

The believing master's rank doesn't mitigate his accountability. No, he has no advantage over the believing slave. Both must give an accounting of themselves, and neither the master nor the slave will be given the slightest preferential treatment. No, they will be recompensed on the merits of their faithfulness; rather than their positions.

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204) Eph 6:10 . . Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power.

The strength indicated there is the nature of combat readiness. When I was serving in the US Army back in the early 1960's, the term "up to strength" meant our unit had a full complement of soldiers ready for war with their weapons, their clothing, their munitions, their training, and their equipment.

But soldiers are not supposed to be mercenaries; no, they go to war under the authority and control of the country they serve. And soldiers pick neither their battles nor their theater of operations; no, superiors pick the battles and the theaters; and when they do so, the full power of their country is behind them, and its resources are at their disposal.

When Joshua was commissioned by God to conquer Canaan, Israel's commander-in-chief wasn't left to his own devices; no, at his disposal was the arsenal and counsel of Yhvh-- a source of intelligence and supernatural powers against which Joshua's enemies had absolutely no defense.

Every believer is a soldier in a war, and there's no neutral ground: you're either fighting with the Lord or you're fighting against the Lord because there's no such thing as conscientious objection in this conflict.

†. Matt 12:30 . . He that is not with me is against me

205) Eph 6:11 . . Wear the full armor of God; so that you may stand against the Devil's tactics.

In other words; when your engage the Devil, don't do it bare-handed and or bare-chested. Suit up first; so to speak.

Joshua's operations were essentially offensive. He was commissioned to conquer and to colonize; but in the believer's war, the operations are essentially defensive; viz: believers are required to stand rather than attack. In other words, believers are dug in like the Japanese on Saipan and Iwo Jima rather than landing with the allies at Normandy; and enemy forces are everywhere: it's a 360° battlefield-- there's neither a front nor a rear; nor a left flank nor a right flank; no, there's only a perimeter.

Why is this situation? Because according to Matt 28:18-20, the believer's mission is to recruit and indoctrinate-- not conquer and colonize as if we were supposed to be building Christ's kingdom on earth. No, forget that. Believers are sojourners not colonizers. (1Pet 2:11)

Webster's defines a "sojourner" as: a temporary resident.

Believers are also "pilgrims"; which Webster's defines as: one who journeys in foreign lands; viz: a wayfarer

206) Eph 6:13 . .Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

That's a call to arms if ever there was one. Christians are sort of like Minutemen; ready to fight and defend on a moment's notice.

The "full armor of God" includes not only body protection, but also any and all weapons as assigned (e.g. Luke 11:22). And the directive here is to have it all with you all the time, not just some of the time. Carelessness is just an open invitation to defeat by means of a sudden, surprise attack.

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207) Eph 6:14a . . Hold fast therefore, having girded your waist with truth

Holding fast essentially means the same as standing your ground, i.e. perseverance.

Men in that day usually didn't wear pants. They typically wore some type of skirt; which, if of the Bedouin variety, was a bit cumbersome and made it difficult to maneuver. So when it came time for activities like say running, climbing, building homes, or digging ditches, they would pull the lower ends of their skirt up around their waste and hold them in place with a belt; thus giving themselves a little more leg room.

Webster's defines "truth" as the real facts about something. Anybody who's been on Christian internet forums for any length of time is aware that there are many facts floating around out in cyberspace that well-meaning people sincerely believe are the real facts; and they are constantly arguing amongst themselves trying to prove that their facts are the real facts and the other guys facts are fiction.

Well; they can't all be girded with the real facts so I think it's safe to assume that a percentage of Christians out there are girded with fictional facts; and they don't know it. Of course everybody thinks it's always the other guy who's got it wrong because it is unimaginable to suspect that we ourselves might be the ones with a head full of baloney.

208) Eph 6:14b . . having on the breastplate of righteousness

The obvious parallel here is a flak jacket; which won't always stop a high powered rifle bullet, but is pretty effective against secondary missiles, grenade fragments, and small arms like pistols, knives, spears, swords, and archery.

I would have to say that the righteousness in this passage pertains to one's personal conduct rather than the imputed righteousness a believer obtains by means of Jesus' crucifixion. So then; in order to be strong in the Lord's mighty power; a believer has to be in fellowship with God; and His fellowship is not obtainable by those whose conduct is unbecoming.

†. 1John 1:5-7 . .This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Joshua found out the hard way that personal righteousness is essential in order to keep the Lord on your side. His men attacked a little community called Ai (Josh 7:2-12) and lost big because their conduct was curse-worthy rather than victory-worthy.

It's essential that a soldier serve with honor because in spite of all his combat readiness and/or his courage under fire, that man will find himself in front of a courts martial looking at the business end of the rifle barrel of military justice instead of serving his country on the battlefield if he doesn't toe the mark and keep his nose clean. And a soldier in the stockade is one less soldier in action.

†. 2Tim 2:20-21 . . In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

209) Eph 6:15 . . and with your feet shod with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

The koiné Greek word for "readiness" is hetoimasia (het-oy-mas-ee'-ah) which means: preparation.

In the US Army, everybody is a soldier, even the cooks. So then, nobody is exempt from Basic Training. We all, regardless of our future in the Army, had to learn how to load, aim, fire, clear, field strip, and clean a primary weapon. In my day, it was a .30cal M1 Garand; today, it's the 5.56mm M16.

We were all taught squad tactics, escape and evasion, and how to use a compass, how to use binoculars, how to operate radios, how to dig a fox hole, how to use cover and concealment, how to use camouflage, how to handle a .45 Colt Auto, how to orient and read a Mercator topographic map, how to throw a grenade, how to clear a path through a mine field, how to use a gas mask, how to spot trip wires and booby traps, hand to hand combat, and fighting with a fixed bayonet.

We were also taught discipline: how to take orders and follow commands. In other words, everyone entering the Army for the first time is taught enough soldiering so that if need be, they can be an effective combatant on a moment's notice whether they're a computer operator, an engineer, or a medic.

From Basic Training, we all branched out to specialized trainings depending on our choice of what used to be called an MOS (Military Operations Specialty). The military has lots of specialties to choose from; so after successfully completing Basic, each new soldier goes off for schooling in their particular MOS. This would correspond to discovering, exercising, and perfecting one's particular gift as per Rom 12:3-8 and 1Cor 12:4-12.

It isn't unusual for a new Christian to want to do some great work like go out on the mission field. Whoa! Put the brakes on! A new Christian is just a recruit. They're not going anywhere without they successfully complete some basic Bible instruction first. Because until they do, biblically ignorant Christians just get in the way and muddy the waters. Their heads are full of baloney; they get into trouble, and get themselves taken down too easily. Newbies are the Devil's meat; just cannon fodder.

In other words: before a newbie is ready to take up the Lord's mandate as per Matt 28:19, the newbie himself must first be taught to observe all things whatsoever the Lord has commanded his followers as per Matt 28:20. Let's not get the cart before the horse.

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210) Eph 6:16 . . In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

The koiné Greek word for "extinguish" is sbennumi (sben'-noo-mee) which means primarily to quench. The same word is used at Heb 11:34 in regard to the three Hebrew lads in Daniel 3:19-27. The angel that was dispatched to protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn't actually snuff out the fiery furnace, but rather, prevented its flames from burning the boys: in other words, faith is a protective barrier; i.e. insulation.

Let me ask you something. Is your faith in Christ built upon logic alone, or is it built upon a blend of logic and intuition? In other words: is it only academic? Well; let me tell you something, there had better be an element of intuition somewhere in your faith because logic can be easily dismantled while feelings are not easily dispelled no matter how much clever logic is thrown at them.

I've been asked several times in the past how I know that my beliefs are true. My answer is: I don't know if they're true. Then of course they follow up with: Then why do you believe your beliefs are true when you have no way of knowing they're true?

Most of the people who ask me those kinds of questions are genuine: they're not trying to trip me up and make a fool out of me. They really are curious about it. So I tell them that though I don't know if my beliefs are true; my intuition insists they are.

Apparently the influence that one's intuition has upon their faith is normal because the Bible says that in order to be saved by faith in Christ's resurrection; one must believe not in their head but in their heart. Well; my head says that his resurrection is questionable; but my gut says it's 100% true. In other words; I believe with my heart rather than only my intellect.

Below is an example of what I'm talking about.

†. Rom 10:9-10 . . If you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be spared. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified

Interesting isn't it? And yet Christians all over the world resolutely deny the role that feelings play in their system of beliefs. Well, they've got a problem; because if they are only believing in Christ's resurrection with their intellect sans any gut input whatsoever; then they are just as surely lost as if they were an atheist. And as for having faith as a shield? Forget it. Not happening.

People whose faith includes an element of feelings instead of logic alone are nigh bullet proof. No matter if someone were to prove beyond a shadow of any sensible doubt that there never was a Jesus who died and came back from the dead; the person whose faith is reinforced by their gut is unshakable because it's like they say: "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still." Lot of truth in that.

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211) Eph 6:17 . .Take the helmet of salvation

Helmets not only protect one's scalp, and one's skull, but also one's brains. Without a sound mind, a defender is about as effective in war as a Ken doll.

†. 2Tim 1:7 . . For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Unbelievers don’t have sound minds; no, their heads are filled with half truths, opinions, semantic double-speak, delusions, sophistry, and theories. A sound mind deals in reality rather than half-truths, sophistry, semantic double-speak, opinions, delusions, and theories. In point of fact; one of the definitions of "truth" is: the way it is; viz: the way it really is. Denial of reality is not what I would call the workings of a sound mind; but rather, the workings of an escapist mind or the mind of a Matrix captive. (cf. Eph 2:1-3)

212) Eph 6:18a . . Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Watch as I quote that with a lower case letter:

"Pray in the spirit"

In other words: pray with your heart rather than with memorized rote; viz: be candid, be forthright and speak your mind.

213) Eph 6:18b . . Be alert

When the Jews were re-building Jerusalem's wall under Nehemiah's command; they were armed to the teeth like Minute Men as they toiled. (Neh 4:15-21).

Plus, they were not only prepared each man to defend himself, but ready to come to the aid of others too. The old saw "United we stand, Divided we fall" is just as true in Christianity as it is in human warfare. Hence:

214) Eph 6:18c . .Always keep on praying for all the saints.

The koiné Greek word for "saints" is hagios (hag'-ee-os) which means: sacred; viz: designated for God; in other words: Christ's people and/or Yhvh's people. (cf. Eph 2:11-19)

The mandate is to pray for "all" the saints; not just the special ones like pastors, deacons, and missionaries. I've seen it happen that when church managers call for prayer, it's typically not prayer for the whole church; but prayer for themselves. Well; that's fine as far as it goes; but let's not neglect to pray for the congregation too.

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215) Php 1:27-30 . .Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . without being intimated in any way by those who oppose you.

Intimidation essentially frightens somebody into submission and/or induces fear or a sense of inferiority. The goal of intimidation is to break somebody's spirit and make them give up, lose heart, and drag along in a fog of futility. Intimidation is often effected by cowing, bulldozing, bullying, browbeating, and peer pressure.

Browbeat implies a cowing through arrogant, scornful, contemptuous, or insolent treatment.

Cow implies reduction to a state where the spirit is broken and/or all courage is lost

Bulldoze implies breaking somebody down by pressure, urgings, demands, or threats

Bullying implies intimidation through threats, insults, and/or aggressive behavior

Peer Pressure can be defined as the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms.

Peer pressure owes it strength to the human heart's natural desire to belong. In the song "Subdivision" by a rock group named
RUSH, there's a lyric that goes: Be cool or be cast out. Of course the criteria for defining what's cool and what's not, are legislated by the group to which one wishes to belong. For high school kids; the "group" is oftentimes not confined to a small posse of valued associates; but even an entire student body. That's a lot of pressure; especially when young people live in dread fear of being known by everybody as a weirdo or a geek.

In an episode of Jerry Seinfeld, somebody, I can't remember who, asked George Costanza: Is it really necessary that everybody like you? And George answered, in an almost indignant tone: Yes! . . it is.

The Lord's people are called to put up with those kinds of abuses, and to encourage themselves by always keeping in mind that a day is coming when the Lord is going to make their enemies pay for the way they treated His sheep.

†. 2Ths 1:6-10 . . Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

216) Php 2:1-2 . . If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

"unity" is a buzz word among ecumenicals; but Christ's directive in no way pertains to ecumenicals whose core belief it is that no one's wrong, and everyone's a Christian if they say so. No, the Lord's directive only pertains to a very narrow cross section of Christians whom he labeled: "those you have given me" (John 17:9). It is they for whom the Lord prayed for unity. (John 17:11, John 17:21-22)

217) Php 2:2-3 . . Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

If there is at least one place on earth where believers should be on the same plane with each other it's church; but that's not always the case as human beings are just naturally prone to value status; especially among pastors, choir members, Sunday school teachers, Deacons, Deaconesses, etc.

Some people aren't content with mediocrity; no, they have to be head and shoulders above the crowd, they have to be admired: they have to be feted, they have to be heard, they have to be noticed, they have to be somebody, they have to be a mover and a shaker, they have to be up in an ivory tower; they have to have their finger on the pulse; they have to be in the limelight. (oops; another
RUSH song) and above all; they have to be right because it is totally contrary to conceit's nature to be wrong about anything; even superfluous minutiae.

If you should find yourself in a position around your church, whether as an usher or a cook for men's Saturday morning prayer breakfast, make sure you're your heart's in the right place because there is coming an performance evaluation for the Lord's sheep where some of the elite are going to be very embarrassed when they're exposed for the ambitious achievers they really are.

†. 1Cor 4:5 . . He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness, and will expose the motives of men's hearts.

An especially bad case of conceit is on display at 3John 1:9-10

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218) Php 2:4 . . Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The "others" in that verse are exclusive. Paul's directive pertains only to the classification of people to whom he penned his letter; viz: "saints in Christ Jesus . . together with the overseers and deacons" (Php 1:1)

Seeing as how the Lord expressly forbids selfish ambition amongst his own; therefore, before proceeding with your ideas, be very sure to ponder all the possible ramifications of your actions first. Stepping on people's toes, and or thwarting their ideas so that yours prevails, fails to satisfy the law of Christ; which requires believers to love their fellow believers as Christ loves them (John 15:12). It also fails to satisfy the Golden Rule which says: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. (Matt 7:12). Selfish ambition just simply isn't very nice.

219) Php 2:5-8 . .Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross.

That's an interesting contrast between the Lord and Adam. He and his wife made a definite grab for equality with God: and the possibility of that equality was one of the Serpent's selling points. (Gen 3:4-5)

It is just amazing how well the Lord shelved his God-given prerogatives of royalty and conducted himself a very regular guy. Even the people with whom the Lord grew up in his home town had no clue he was so well connected to their creator.

Can you just imagine, say, entering a building and there's Christ holding the door open for you? I would be a lots more comfortable the other way around; but that's just the way he is; Christ has never let either his rank or his position go to his head. There isn't a pretentious, pompous, ostentatious, vain, narcissistic, elitist bone in his body.

The Lord reminds me of the opening scenes of "Camelot" where King Arthur, out walking by himself in the woods, deep in thought and soliloquy, appears to be such a commoner that Sir Lancelot calls him a coward and challenges him to a joust.

That same degree of commonness is apparent in the Lord at Luke 24:15-31 where he spoke with two disciples after his resurrection who had no clue who he really was as there is nothing in either his bearing or his demeanor that suggested royalty.

†. Matt 11:28-30 . . Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

†. John 1:14 . .We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace

Some of the aspects of "grace" are kind, courteous, inclined to good will, generous, charitable, merciful, altruistic, compassionate, thoughtful, cordial, affable, genial, sociable, cheerful, warm, sensitive, considerate, and tactful.

Cordial stresses warmth and heartiness

Affable implies easy approachability and readiness to respond pleasantly to conversation or requests or proposals

Genial stresses cheerfulness and even joviality

Sociable suggests a genuine liking for the companionship of others

Generous is characterized by a noble or forbearing spirit; viz: magnanimous, kindly, and liberal in giving

Charitable means full of love for, and goodwill toward, others; viz: benevolent, tolerant, and lenient.

Altruistic means unselfish regard for, or devotion to, the welfare of others; viz: a desire to be of service to others for no other reason than it just feels good to do so.

Tactful indicates a keen sense of what to do, or say, in order to maintain good relations with others in order to resolve and/or avoid unnecessary conflict.

One morning back in the late 1970's, I arrived at a Saturday morning men's prayer breakfast at the same time as the #2 pastor of a mega church in San Diego. He made no movement whatsoever to hold the door for me; but rather, paused while I held it for him. What did that say about that man's compliance with item #217? You know when pastors are setting that kind of an example; what more can they expect from the rank and file?

†. John 13:13-17 . .You call me lord and master: and you say well; for so I am. If I then, your lord and master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you . . If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

That's one of the Lord's unsung beatitudes that should be included along with those in the sermon on the mount. There's a few others; e.g. Matt 11:6, Luke 11:28, Luke 12:38, and John 20:29.

But there is always that one "king of the mountain" in church who just has to be head and shoulders above everybody else; for example:

†. 3John 1:9 . . I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

Diotrephes not only opposed the apostles; but also excommunicated people who dared to ally with them. And to think that guy operated not in a Devil-worshipping church, but in a Christ-worshipping church. (3John 1:10)

(chuckle) Mr. Diotrephes apparently was on, what we today would label, an ego trip.

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220) Php 2:12 . . As you have always obeyed-- work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

Some people's interpretation of that passage pretty much echoes Santa Claus' holiday practices. For example the lyrics from the classic jingle: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

You better watch out, you better not cry,
Better not pout, I'm telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town

He's making a list, and checking it twice;
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice:
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping,
He knows when you're awake,
He knows if you've been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!

There's no grace in that song-- none at all --no generosity, no altruism, no kindness, no charity, no love, no peace, no understanding, no sympathy, no patience, no tolerance, no courtesy, no compassion, no forgiveness, i.e. there are no gifts in Santa's bag; only merit awards for those who prove themselves worthy enough to deserve them.

Well; Paul didn't say work for your salvation, no he said work it out; which speaks of something entirely different than merit awards.

Full grown oak trees resemble oak trees; but oak saplings don't; not yet. No, saplings have quite a bit of growing up to do before they begin to take on the appearance of oak trees. Saplings are oaks, yes, but not mature oaks.

In the same way, people born of the Spirit as per John 3:3-8 don't resemble Christ at first. No, they are just saplings who have quite a bit of growing up to do before they begin to take on his appearance.

In other words; just as oak saplings are baby oaks, so people born of the Spirit as per John 3:3-8 are baby Christians. Working out their salvation involves developing maturity. I mean; how tragic it would be for a baby born-again Christian to stay immature all its life and never grow up to be an adult born-again Christian!

†. Eph 4:11-15 . . It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

. . .Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ.

When I joined the US Army back in 1961, the final thing that recruits did that day was take an oath of allegiance. I can't remember the exact wording of the oath, but it sealed the deal and from that moment on, I no longer belonged to the civilian world; I belonged to the US Government. However, I was not an accomplished soldier yet. Heck, I didn't even know how to salute or march in formation. Nevertheless, even in the raw I was a G.I. right from the get-go.

From day-one I began three years of specialized training and practice beginning with the training and practice called Basic. Training and practice didn't stop with Basic; no it never stopped. It went on for as long as I was on active duty and its purpose was not to prepare men for enlistment; rather, to forge already-enlisted men into combat-ready fighting machines; fully disciplined and ready to serve their country in war on a moment's notice.

But you see; the day of my enlistment, I was not fully trained and disciplined, nor was I ready to serve my country in war on a moment's notice. I was a G.I. yes; but I needed work-- lots of specialized work, before I would be competent enough to serve the purpose for which the Government wanted me.

According to Eph 1:13, the moment someone hears and believes the gospel, they are sealed by God's spirit. From that moment on, they no longer belong to the world; rather, they belong to God. But they're only recruits: they're just as raw as a brand new Army enlistee, and they need work; lots and lots of work before they're competent enough to serve the purpose for which God apprehended them.

†. Eph 2:10 . . For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


NOTE: The phrase "fear and trembling" was one of Paul's favorite colloquialisms; for example:

†. 1Cor 2:3-4 . . For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

And another:

†. Eph 6:5-8 . . Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men

"fear, and in trembling" doesn't mean Paul recommends shivering in terror and anxiety like a frightened gerbil; but that a believer's attitude should be free of pride, arrogance, and conceit, i.e. free of a superiority complex and/or a master-race mentality; for example:

Paul was very courteous to the Corinthians, and made himself of no reputation at all, even though he was one of the Lord's hand-picked apostles and they were a bunch of pagan heathens at the time who deserved nothing but the cold shoulder. Paul's attitude rubbed off on the Corinthians because they in turn deferred to Paul's associates with fear and trembling just as he had treated them all at one time.

†. 2Cor 7:14-15 . . I had boasted to [Titus] about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling.

So then, what we're talking about here with "fear and trembling" is honor, respect, submission, deference, and reverence rather than terror and anxiety; and it's actually one of the Beatitudes.

†. Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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221) Php 2:14 . . Do everything without grumbling or debating

It used to be an understood rule of thumb in the US Army that GIs could complain all they wanted just so long as they did what they were told. Well; Christ isn't pleased with that.

†. Col 3:23 . .Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

The problem with grumbling is that it's an attitude of rebellion; for example:

†. Num 21:5-6 . . And the people spoke against God and Moses saying: Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.

Well; long story short, God punished the people's grumbling by sending a swarm of deadly reptiles among them, and many bitten by the reptiles died because their venom was very lethal.

The word for "debating" is dialogismos (dee-al-og-is-mos') which is sometimes translated "evil thoughts" for example:

†. Matt 15:19 . . For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Dialogismos sometimes keeps people awake at night as they obsessively re-wind and re-play a conflict with somebody over, and over, and over again in their heads.

222) Php 3:1 . . Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord!

The koiné Greek word for "brethren" is adelphos (ad-el-fos') which is a masculine noun for a male relative. But it's use is flexible. Adelphos can also include one's female relatives too; I mean; after all, men and women are all siblings around the table in God's home. And when Paul wrote to a church, he oftentimes used the word adelphos to address the entire congregation.

Rejoicing "in the Lord" is way different than rejoicing in yourself; which is vulnerable to one's mood and/or circumstances. The Lord once told his disciples that they shouldn't rejoice that demons obeyed them, but rather, that their names were written in Heaven. (Luke 10:20)

†. Col 3:1-4 . . Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say:
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Horatio P. Spafford
1828-1888


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223) Php 3:2a . . Beware of dogs,

Dogs in ancient Israel were regarded with the same degree of abhorrence that we in the west regard rats. They weren't your average domesticated pet, but rather, feral, homeless curs that prowled city streets and landfills, feeding on garbage, road kill, and the corpses of low income folk who died without proper burial A study of the dogs of the Old Testament reveals just how low in one's estimation is the person regarded as one (e.g. 1Kgs 14:11, 1Kgs 21:19, 1Kgs 21:24, 2Kgs 9:29-37; cf. Luke 16:21).

Feral dogs were not only unsanitary, but treacherous too.

†. Matt 7:6 . . Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

There are also guard dogs; which would correspond to people so passionate and protective of their religion of choice that they will literally kill people who refuse to agree with them; for example:

†. Ps 22:16 . . Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

The "dogs" in that passage were Israel's religious elite; the very ones who had Jesus arrested and put to death on trumped up charges. Pilate caught on right quick that the Jews weren't after Christ's blood on account of crime; but because of envy (Matt 27:18). In other words: Christ was an effective rival that had to be eliminated. Christians have really got to watch their backs around zealots like that crazy enough to murder people who dare to oppose their belief systems.

A "dog" can be categorized as someone who is spiritually feral; which Webster's defines as: (1) of, relating to, or suggestive of an animal; viz: savage, (2) not domesticated or cultivated; viz: wild, untamed, (3) having escaped from domestication and become wild, and (4) beastly. A dog then, in the spiritual sense, is little more than a brutish human scavenger.

Human dogs are destined for a very unpleasant future in the same category as witches, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, and liars.

†. Rev 22:13-15 . . I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

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224) Php 3:2b . . Beware of evil workers,

"evil workers" probably indicates ersatz evangelists like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In that day, it was probably local followers of Judaism in the city of Philippi who went about proselytizing Christians.

225) Php 3:2c . . Beware of mutilation.

Mutilation in this particular instance isn't criminal mutilation, but rather, refers to voluntary ritual circumcision; which merely removes physical flesh but does nothing to remove spiritual flesh, viz: human nature. For that kind of circumcision; one must undergo a supernatural procedure; one performed by an act of God rather than by one of the world's surgeons.

†. Col 2:11-12 . . In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

226) Php 3:17 . . Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before, and now say, again even with tears: many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their appetites, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

I'm pretty sure that passage can be said to be speaking of the tares that Christ mentioned in Matt 13:24-30 and Matt 13:36-43. The law of averages-- plus Satan's machinery --insures that every church has a percentage of tares on the roles. Unfortunately they're impervious to the gospel. You'd no doubt have better luck stopping a Russian tank by throwing beer bottles at it than preaching to tares.

227) Php 4:4 . . Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: Rejoice!

Words and grammar in the Bible convey information; otherwise language serves no useful purpose. When the Lord says "always" he means always or he wouldn't say always. So then, part-time rejoicers in the Lord are failing to comply with God's wishes.

There is a joy available from Christ that's able to overcome all the sadness this world can possibly throw at you.

†. John 15:11 . .These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your own joy might be full.

The koiné Greek word for "joy" in that verse is chara (khar-ah') which doesn't mean ecstasy; but rather: cheerfulness; viz: calm delight and/or gladness; in other words: pacific. This doesn't mean believers should be bubbling over all the time; but it sure does mean they shouldn't be overwhelmed with feelings of despair all the time; or even some of the time. Paul says to rejoice "always" which of course is beyond human capability; but not beyond the Spirit's.

†. Gal 5:22 . .The fruit of the Spirit is joy.

The fruit of the Spirit is available only to Christians whose lives exemplify Christian standards of conduct.

†. John 16:33 . .These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

228) Php 4:5 . . Let your gentleness be evident to all.

The koiné Greek word for "gentleness" is epieikes (ep-ee-i-kace') which essentially means: mild.

Webster's defines "mild" as gentle in nature or behavior, moderate in action or effect; not sharp or bitter.

Though a mild person is affable, they aren't necessarily a wimp; no, they're just difficult to provoke. The quite opposite would be a thin skinned, reactive, defensive personality that goes to war at the drop of a hat.

Mild people don't threaten, nor come at you with bared teeth and narrowed eyes. They're reasonable and rational, rather than emotional and reactive. Assertive, confrontational people have no clue what it is to be mild; and those are the very ones losing sleep with evil thoughts as they obsessively re-wind and re-play a conflict with somebody in their heads over, and over, and over again.

†. Matt 5:5 . . Blessed are the meek.

Moses was meek (Num 12:3) and the Lord was meek (Matt 11:29, Matt 21:5). Personally I wouldn't categorize either of those two men as meek. So then, what really is meekness?

Primarily, to be meek, in the Biblical sense of the word, is to be temperate. A temperate person isn't eo ipso a cowering milk toast. Anybody who's studied the life of Moses and Jesus can easily testify that neither of those men were timid; no, they walked softly and carried a big stick. Never mistake true meekness for a yellow streak.

Jacob and his dad Isaac were temperate men; but could be very strong when the situation called for it. Temperate people pick their battles carefully, and never waste anger and energy on trifles.

There are Christians in this world who're simply implacable. They just cannot live and let live. Turning the other cheek is to them a worn-out cliché that no one takes seriously anymore. For them rivalry, conflict, revenge, competition, retaliation, recriminations, and grudging are a way of life: every disagreement is an act of war-- they're peevish, emotional, bitter, harsh, unloving, cruel, thoughtless, and reactive; and they thrive on complaining, criticism, chafing, carping, finding fault, tattling, bickering, retort upon retort, rejoinder upon rejoinder, sarcasm, endless debate, telling other people off, gainsaying, and getting in people's faces and giving them a piece of their mind.

It seems like those people are always getting indignant about some petty outrage or another. Well; those kinds of Christians are definitely not in the temperate category. They're hellians in gross violation of Paul's directive to "Let your gentleness be evident to all." simply because they have no gentleness. Instead; these people let their wrath be evident to all because when they're upset; they want everybody to know it.

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229) Php 4:6 . . Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Webster's defines "anxiety" as: characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind, or brooding fear about some contingency; viz: worry-- which implies an incessant goading, or attacking, that drives one to desperation.

If believers were never to be anxious then there would be little, if any, need to pray and share one's concerns with their father in Heaven. The point here, is to avoid desperation. When people get desperate, they start making mistakes; and some of those mistakes can be life-changing; and cause permanent damage.

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2009 a deranged man named George Sodini walked into an LA Fitness gym in Philadelphia and gunned down twelve women in an exercise class. His impetus? According to information police later found on his blog, the 48 year-old man was in a mental state brought on by his long-held personal conviction that not one woman in the whole world could possibly love him. In his mind; women were a threat to his survival-- cruel, venomous sirens whose mission in life is to torment males and make them unhappy. No doubt in Sodini's thinking, murdering those women was justifiable revenge for what females had done to him all his life.

His case is extreme, yes, but it serves to illustrate what happens to people when they let desperation gnaw at their feelings for too long a time. Pretty soon they crack and do something irrational.

For a believer on the verge of desperation; their Father may or may not remove the source of their concerns, but at least He's at hand to protect them from going too far off the deep end; unless of course their nervous condition is related to a sin unto death. (cf. Rom 8:13, 1John 5:16-17)

†. Php 4:7 . . And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

230) Php 4:8 . . Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy --think about such things.

It's a common practice among emergency medical service personnel to get a patient's mind off their injuries by distracting them with a barrage of questions and/or chit-chat because thoughts and emotions have power to make things worse.

Sometimes late at night when the demons come, and negative thoughts start festering in my mind enough to keep me awake, I get up and do something like watch a documentary on NetFlix, or a movie on DVD, play a video game, read a book, or work on the computer. Just getting my mind on something besides those negative thoughts really helps restore my peace of mind so I can go back to bed and get some sleep. Paul's directive makes good mental-health sense.

231) Php 4:9 . . Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

You know, sometimes I think that too many Christians are somehow under the impression that the New Testament's epistles are not all that important in matters related to faith and practice. They've made the Sermon On The Mount their religion and they think that's all they need. But if they want the God of peace to be with them instead of off in the distance; then they are simply going to have to revise their estimate. Compliance with the epistles is not optional; no, it's essential.

†. 1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

†. 1Ths 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

†. Jas 1:22-25 . . And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don't obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law-- the law that sets you free --and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

232) Col 2:6-7 . . So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

That directive, of course, is restricted to the faith as you were taught by Paul and his contemporaries. He and they taught only one faith rather than a buffet of faiths to choose from.

†. Eph 4:4-5 . . There is one faith

†. Jude 1:3 . . Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

It's neither wise nor humane to encourage somebody rooted and built up in Christian cults to continue in those faiths: e.g. Moonies, Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Herbert W. Armstrong, Mormonism, and/or the Watchower Society, et al.

Paul emphasized receiving Christ Jesus as "lord". The koiné Greek word is kurios (koo'-ree-os) which means: supreme in authority; viz: one's master-- whether a dictator, despot, monarch, or chief of police; et al.

Kurios is an ambiguous word that simply indicates someone higher in rank than yourself whether God or anybody else, even a senior citizen. So words like sir, mister, boss, and master can be translated from kurios too. The point is, the Bible's Jesus is in charge of his own sheep; which means he has a right to make some demands upon them; viz: he's the leader; they the followers; or why bother with Psalm 23?

†. Ps 23:1-2 . .The Lord is my shepherd; he leadeth me

If the Lord is the shepherd, and if he's the leader; then why are some of his "followers" off-reservation doing their own thing instead of in line where they belong?

†. Luke 6:46 . .Why do you call me lord and master and do not what I say?

†. Mal 1:6 . . A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the fear due me?-- protests Yhvh Almighty.

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233) Col 2:8 . . See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

What he's talking about there are humanistic versions of Christianity; especially those built upon proprietary traditions rather than "the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2Ths 2:15). Those kinds of Christianity are insidious because they're typically a subtle blend of truth and error. Paul wasn't just being rhetorical; no, the time is now when pew warmers are buying into humanistic versions of Christianity.

†. 2Tim 4:2-4 . . Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when they will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and seek teachers who will tell them what it is they wish to hear. They will reject the truth and heed fantasies.

The reason that they will heed what Paul calls "fantasies" is because anything but the truth is far and away more appealing to the human mind. Take for example Stephen Hawking's theory that a cosmos can come into existence sans intelligent design; in other words: sans a creator. Stephen's arguments are clever, sophisticated, and scientific; viz: they make sense; and they are widely accepted by his admirers.

234) Col 2:16-17 . .Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

Some humanistic versions of Christianity incorporate diets, rituals, rites, and holy days of obligation. According to the principles stipulated in the 14th chapter of Romans, those things are optional; but certainly not mandatory. To insist otherwise is to play God and to usurp the Lord's sovereign right to make the rules for his own church.

235) Col 2:18a . . Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on self-denial.

Now we're getting into the sphere of asceticism; which Christ has never approved. Asceticism describes a life-style characterized by abstinence from materialism and various sorts of worldly pleasures (e.g. sex, cosmetics, movies, dancing, alcohol, romance novels, soaps, gambling, and the accumulation of material wealth) often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. Ascetics, by the very nature of their philosophy, insinuate that Christ was wrong to consume wine and/or provide it for a wedding.

Ascetics think themselves to possess a superior spirituality over and above regular Christians; but Paul popped that bubble soundly.

†. Col 2:18c-19 . .These people claim to be so humble, but their sinful minds have made them conceited. They are not connected to Christ, the head of the body.

(chuckle) Paul depicted ascetics as kind of like the headless horseman in the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.

236) Col 2:18b . . And don't let anyone say you must worship angels, even though they say they have had visions about this.

I have actually encountered Christians who claim to have patron ghosts: spirits with whom they communicate and that help them in daily life. I do not dispute their claim seeing as how the existence of familiar spirits is validated by Lev 20:7 et al; but Christ rules against letting them influence your thinking; even as Yhvh condemns to death any among His people who dabble in that sort of thing.

Apparitions are very effective. Just look at the number of Christians whose religious beliefs are influenced by appearances like Our Lady of Fatima and the Miracle of the Tilma (Our Lady of Guadalupe). That only goes to show how true it is that people tend to believe only what they can see with their own two eyes. In the end, that "show me" attitude will result in humanity's ruin as they watch a statue come to life and start giving orders to execute people who refuse to worship it. (Rev 13:13-15)

Heed what Rev 13:13-15 says; and be warned. Its lesson is obvious: miracles and/or apparitions cannot be trusted to validate one's religious beliefs. In point of fact; numbers of people passing themselves off as Christians are going to Hell and eternal suffering in spite of their ability to perform miracles. (Matt 7:22-23)

Paul said he would never listen to even a real live genuine holy angel of God from Heaven unless the angel preached the very same message as the one he himself preached (Gal 1:6-9). As anyone familiar with Virgin sightings knows, they never preach the same message as Paul's; no they preach things like world peace, devotion to Jesus' mom, immaculate hearts, and rosaries.

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237) Col 3:1-2 . . Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Christianity is a lethal religion. It puts its believers to death on the cross with Christ and they are encouraged to think of that as a reality; and not only that, but also to account their resurrection to immortality a done deal, i.e. it's in the bag. (Rom 6:3-11, Gal 2:20)

238) Col 3:5 . . Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature

The earthly nature of Christ's followers was judged, sentenced, and executed on his cross but his followers won't be rid of their earthly nature till they pass on. However, if Christ's followers want to take advantage of God's kindly patronage and providence, they have got to straighten up and fly right. This has been an axiom since the very beginning.

†. Gen 4:6-7 . . If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

And it's still an axiom to this very day.

†. 1John 1:5-7 . . And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth

At this point, the epistle lists a catalogue of behaviors that aren't practiced in heaven; and since the Lord's sheep are destined for that place, they need to start living now like they will be living then.

239) Col 3:5-11 . . sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Webster's defines "malice" as: desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another. Behaviors like deliberate chafing, needling, ridicule, mockery, taunts, demeaning comments, ugly words the tear people down rather than build them up, denigrating labels, biting sarcasm, fault-finding, carping criticism, thoughtless remarks, petty ill will, spite, vindictiveness, and stalking are all malicious behaviors that no one in heaven ever practices because heaven is a place of peace.

The koiné Greek word for "filthy conversation" is aischrologia (ahee-skhrol-og-ee'-ah) and means: vile conversation.

Webster's defines "vile" as: (1) morally despicable or abhorrent, (2) physically repulsive; viz: foul and/or odious, (3) of little worth or account; viz: common, vulgar, (4) tending to degrade, demean, and/or denigrate, (5) disgustingly and/or utterly bad; viz: obnoxious, contemptible, unacceptable, disagreeable, and (6) base; viz: crude, churlish, unrefined.

240) Col 3:9-10 . . Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

It's interesting that the Colossian believers were lying to each other, and no doubt would have continued to lie if Paul had not commanded them to stop.

The koiné Greek word for "renewed" is anakainoo (an-ak-ahee-no'-o) which means: to renovate; which Webster's defines as : (1) to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding), and (2) to restore to life, vigor, or activity : revive. This renovation process takes place only by means of conscientious Bible study combined with uncompromising personal evaluations

241) Col 3:12 . .Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Apparently the Colossian believers were neither compassionate, nor kind, nor humble, nor gentle, nor patient, and would have continued to be that way had not Paul hadn't commanded them otherwise.

Paul's basis for these commands is the Colossians' standing as "God's chosen people, holy and dearly beloved" I mean: is it appropriate for people in that kind of a relationship with God to act like devils?

You know, judging from the descriptions of some of the first century churches, I get the impression that were we to go back in time to visit one, we'd be walking into a snake pit.

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242) Col 3:13-14 . . Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Love can be roughly defined as affection; which itself can be roughly defined as tenderness. One of the Lord's constant rubs with his Pharisaic opponents was their virtually 100% lack of tenderness; which totally warped their application of Israel's covenanted law.

†. Matt 9:13 . . Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.

Some folk interpret that verse to say that the Levitical sacrifices have been repealed. But that's not what God was saying via the prophet at Hos 6:6. He was saying that He much prefers that people be civil to each other rather than religious to their fingertips. In other words; an insensitive person's lack of things like compassion, sympathy, patience, tolerance, affableness, helpfulness, pity, courtesy, humility, understanding, and care, totally nullifies their worship, regardless of one's choice of religious beliefs and practices.

243) Col 3:15a . . Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

The world is not impressed when believers are at war with themselves. There is a very subtle hint to that effect at Gen 13:1-7. How do you suppose Abram's and Lot's squabbling looked to the pagans? When God's people can't get along, outsiders become disgusted with them and they sure won't be influenced for God in a good way when the Lord's people are fighting amongst themselves like that.

Years ago, when I was a young welder just starting out on my own, I rented a small room in a daylight basement from a man who was the senior pastor of a medium-sized Seventh Day Adventist church in the Portland Oregon area. He and his wife radiated the luster of polished spirituality whenever I spoke with them out in the yard, but in my location under the floor of the house, I could overhear their bitter quarrels upstairs behind closed doors. Was I favorably inclined to attend his church? No.

A church without peace is a church deprived of the Spirit.

†. Gal 5:22-23 . . The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

244) Col 3:15b . . And be thankful.

In an America accustomed to entitlements, bail-outs, reparations, stimulus packages, federally funded school lunches, FEMA, SNAP, TANF, and an abundance of perks, free-bees, and social programs; it's very unusual to find thankful citizens. Most are arrogant and demanding; taking their blessings for granted.

I was particularly annoyed back in January 2010 by a Haitian man's angry complaint in the news that America wasn't responding fast enough to his country's needs created by their earthquake. That man is a perfect example of someone who has no appreciation for charity; but rather, sees charity as an entitlement rather than a blessing.

My #1 nephew was a Seneca man who took the spiritual values of his Iroquois ancestors very seriously. Some Christians would no doubt think of my nephew as a heathen, but he was far more thankful for his blessings-- due to the influences of Hiawatha and Handsome Lake --then many of the intellectual pew warmers that I've encountered in the several churches I've attended over the years.

245) Col 3:16 . . Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom

In order to fully comply with that directive, it's essential that the word of Christ first dwell in you richly before attempting to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. The koiné Greek word for "richly" is plousios (ploo-see'-oce) which means: copiously. Webster's defines copious as: yielding something abundantly. In other words: fruitful. This is not an easy command to obey because it first requires walking the walk before talking the talk.

†. Heb 6:7-8 . . For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and yields crops useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

Hindrances to fruitfulness are listed in the parable of the sower at Matt 13:3-23, Mark 4:3-20, and Luke 8:5-15.

Fruitless Christians are eo ipso disqualified to teach and admonish their fellow Christians because they just simply lack the wisdom to do so. In other words; the wisdom we're talking about here is life experience rather than academic training.

246) Col 3:17 . .Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.

What's in a name? Well, besides being one's moniker and/or one's reputation; one's name also refers to their status; e.g. kings, queens, mayors, governors, presidents, et al.

A simple way to apply Col 3:17 is just to ask yourself: Can my master put his signature on this? If you know in your heart he cannot, then you do not have Christ's authorization to proceed. If you proceed anyway, then you will be off-reservation, in your own little world of anarchy and rebellion against the Lord's sovereign right, as the lord and master of Christianity, to manage your affairs.

†. Rom 14:22-23 . . Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

247) Col 3:18 . .Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

That command pertains only to Christian wives; not to just any wife who happens to be looking in.

The imperative here is to voluntarily subordinate herself. A woman that has to be tamed in order to be civil is not the ideal. It is far and away better that a woman take the initiative to domesticate herself than to force God to break her like a mustang. Conducts like defiance, insolence, stubbornness and dominance are unbecoming for a Christian wife.

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248) Col 3:19 . . Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

That command pertains only to Christian husbands, not to just any husband who happens to be looking in.

A study posted in the Science section of the August 26, 2014 edition of the New York Times found that couples who make active decisions about their relationships, and about major life events by sitting down and talking things over; tend to have a higher rate of success in marriage percentage-wise than couples who just let things happen.

A good example of this is Jacob. When he was instructed by God to leave uncle Laban's ranch and return to Canaan, Jacob didn't just drop the news on Rachel and Leah like a bolt out of the blue and announce: "Okay everybody! Pack up! We're leaving!"

No, he took them aside, out in a pasture where the three of them together, privately, could discuss this major life-changing event. Jacob was a very rare man. He didn't have to give his wives a say in the move. In those days, wives were given little choice in their husband's affairs. But Jacob was not that kind of man. He wanted to know how his wives felt about the move. As a result, they all three together agreed to move; and all three were happy with their decision. I will always admire Jacob for that.

249) Col 3:20 . . Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

That command pertains only to Christian kids; not to just any kid who happens to be looking in. And it needs to be said that not every kid in a Christian home is a Christian kid. Some are demon seeds: that's just a fact of life and it can't be helped.

The Greek word for "obey" in that verse is hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o) which is somewhat ambiguous. It can mean, variously, to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority.

Too many television sit-coms today portray kids who don't listen to their parents. But of course those sit-con kids have no desire to please the Lord.

250) Col 3:21 . . Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

That command pertains only to Christian fathers, not to just any father who happens to be looking in.

In my teen years, just before entering the US Army, I was into trouble with the law and can remember my mother plaintively asking herself: Where did I go wrong? Well, my mother was one of those people whom psychologists label borderline personalities. We all know at least one of those kinds of people. They never see themselves as a factor in human relationships gone south; no, you are the problem, not them.

My mother was cruel, abusive, despotic, dictatorial, profane, and thoroughly insensitive. After 17½ years of slaps across the face, zero hugs, zero kisses, zero appreciation, zero encouragement, zero sympathy, abundant rage, profanity, relentless ridicule, thoughtless remarks, indifference, name calling, silent treatments, yelling, slave labor, and demeaning comments from my own biological mother; I totally lacked confidence, and was handicapped with a crippling inferiority complex. I felt ugly, expendable, unwanted, dirty, burdensome, moronic, and unnecessary. And to make matters only worse, she and my father were as alike as peas in a pod. He too was borderline and just as abusive and thoughtless as she. They were a demonic tag team, and very effective too.

Was I discouraged? Yes. I had become just exactly what Paul directed believing fathers to avoid. I felt no inclination whatsoever to make my parents proud of me because they broke my spirit at a very early age and for the most part; made my life a living hell.

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251) Col 3:22-25 . . Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men

Some Christians tend to forget that they live in a fishbowl; a sort of Big Brother society where God misses nothing.

†. 1Pet 1:13-17 . .Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

252) Col 4:1 . . Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

If America's corporations, factories, and businesses would comply with just that one teensy little edict, it would end the need for labor unions. It would also put sweatshops and the exploitation of foreign poverty and immigrant labor out to pasture too.

Most businesses try to avoid giving their employees what is right and fair in order to get better bottom lines on their quarterly reports. Fair and right wages and benefits are expensive and cut into profits. Herein is one of the evils of corporatism. The ones that have gone public have a fiduciary responsibility (they say) to share holders to grow and produce profits; therefore they will not hesitate to throw workforces to the wolves in order to fulfill that responsibility.

Whenever you see a big corporation like Boeing ask it's workforce to take a wage cut; that is what they are doing-- throwing their workforce to the wolves to protect the corporation from sustaining a loss; the meanwhile taking little thought to the fact that wage cuts make it that much more difficult for workforces to survive in an inflationary economy. Corporations complain that the cost of doing business is hurting them. Well; what do they think the cost of living is doing to their workforces?

A popular corporate business plan nowadays involves moving headquarters offshore, thus sheltering millions, and even billions of dollars of profits from US taxes. What that means is; the US taxes that would have been paid on those profits do not go towards funding the Federal budget and/or servicing the Federal debt. In other words: corporations are not all that civic-minded nor patriotic when it comes to money; on the contrary, they are showcases of greed and selfishness to the detriment of their fellow Americans; while the chief executive officers gorge themselves at the hog trough of stupendous salary and benefit packages, and colossal bonuses.

253) Col 4:2 . . Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

The koiné Greek word for "devote" is proskartereo (pros-kar-ter-eh'-o) which means: to persevere; viz: not give up and/or lose interest.

†. Luke 18:1 . . And he spoke a parable unto them to this end: that people ought always to pray, and not lose heart.

For many of us, prayer is a last resort; a grasping at straws because we simply have nowhere else to turn. We wish for progress with prayer, while not really expecting it because we already know from plenty of experience that prayer too often leads into a cul-de-sac of perplexity and discouragement; so then, what's the use? In other words: prayer is very difficult for some believers because it's often so futile.

Why doesn't the Bible's God respond? And if He's not going to respond, then why keep on making a fool of ourselves trying to get through to an imaginary playmate when all the while its phone is off the hook?

It was this very issue that led Mother Teresa of Calcutta to question whether there really is a God out there. During virtually her entire five decades in India, Teresa felt not the slightest glimmer of the Lord's presence and suffered a good deal of anxiety wondering why Christ abandoned her.

I'm not making this up. You can read it for yourself in a collection of Teresa's private letters titled Mother Teresa / Come Be My Light; The Private Writings of the "Saint Of Calcutta" published with Rome's approval by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, director of the Mother Teresa center and a postulator for her canonization.

In one of Teresa's private letters, penned to a Father Picachy, Teresa complained : I am told God loves me; and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.

In yet another letter, penned to a Father Joseph Neuner, S.J. Teresa again complained : Now Father-- since 1949 or 1950 this terrible sense of loss-- this untold darkness-- this loneliness, this continual longing for God-- which gives me pain deep down in my heart-- Darkness is such that I really do not see neither with my mind nor with my reason-- the place of God in my soul is blank-- There is no God in me-- when the pain of longing is so great-- I just long & long for God-- and then it is that I feel-- He does not want me-- He is not there-- God does not want me-- Sometimes-- I just hear my own heart cry out-- "My God" and nothing else comes-- the torture and pain I can't explain.

In yet another letter, Teresa complained : When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. How painful is this unknown pain-- I have no faith.

If the most pious nun the 20th century ever produced found heaven's phone off the hook for virtually five decades, then why should ordinary rank and file pew warmers "devote" themselves to prayer? Can they seriously expect to have any better luck than Teresa did? Yes; men ought to pray and not give up. I'm not trying to countermand the Lord's instructions. All I'm saying is: don't get your hopes up; but let me show you another angle:

C.S. Lewis, famed author of The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia; once remarked that he prayed, not because he expected results but, because it made him feel better. Well, if prayer makes you feel better, then more power to you-- in point of fact, I highly recommend conversational prayer because talking things out with somebody, even an imaginary playmate, is far and away better than talking things out with nobody.

There are instances in the Old Testament where God actually sent His people troubles just to get their attention and start them talking to Him again. Sort of like a little boy in third grade spitting on the hair of a girl sitting in front of him so she'll notice him. (chuckle) Well, if God spits on your hair, so to speak, then maybe it's time you and He had a fireside chat.

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254) Col 4:3-4 . . And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Proclaiming the mystery of Christ clearly as one should means to avoid sophisticated intellectualism (1Cor 2:1-5) viz: put the cookies on the bottom shelf where the kiddies can reach them. I've had people actually criticize me for writing as if I'm speaking to third-graders. But that's exactly it; don't you see? If I were to write as I were speaking to people with Master's degrees and/or Doctorates, then I would fail to communicate with the minds of my peers.

When physicist Stephen Hawking set out to write his fabulously popular book "A Brief History Of Time" he determined to make an effort to speak of complicated cosmological concepts in layman's terms. Well; he succeeded, and consequently just about anybody with an average IQ and the ability to read can pick up Stephen's book and get something out of it.


NOTE: In my opinion it is far better to appeal to common folk than the educated elite because most of them are a lost cause no matter.

†. 1Cor 1:26 . . For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh.

Q: Does an evangelist need a ThD degree?

A: I would have to say NO because at least two of the apostles were uneducated.

†. Acts 4:13 . . Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled.

So was Amos.

†. Amos 7:14-15 . .Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah: I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: and Yhvh took me as I followed the flock, and He said unto me: Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.

The Lord himself was a carpenter, which was a craft considered at the level of uneducated society in his day.

†. John 7:14-15 . . Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying: How knoweth this man letters, having never studied?

The lesson is obvious: seminaries don't make evangelists: God makes them because it's not a career path; no, it's a calling.

†. 1Cor 12:4-11 . . There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wishes.

Though only special believers are selected for big league evangelism; all are called to the minors.

†. 1Pet 3:15 . . Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that you have.

Ironically, not everyone passing themselves off as a Christian is able to comply with Peter's mandate because the "hope" about which he wrote isn't a cross-your-fingers hope; but rather: it's anticipation; which is way different than wishing for something. Wishing has no clue, while anticipation fully expects its longings to be satisfied.

255) Col 4:5 . . Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

I once heard a story about a well-meaning sidewalk evangelist who was handing out Gospel tracts. A man came by and asked the side-walker what he was doing. The side-walker handed the man a tract and said: Here, read this. Well, the man was illiterate. So he told the side-walker: I can't read your tract, so I'll just watch your tracks. In other words; don't just talk the talk; walk the walk too: live it because for some people, your life speaks volumes.

Let me ask you something. Do you go on internet forums only for the fun of engaging in bull sessions? Well; if that's the case then I would have to say that you are failing to make the most of every opportunity to fulfill the Lord's mandate to "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt 28:19-20). Ironically, a pretty good number of the 30+ forums I've been on since 1997 prohibit teaching; even forums specifically set up for Bible study and discipleship

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256) Col 4:6 . . Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Grace is pretty well defined back at item #219.

Webster's defines "salt" as a natural white substance that is used especially to flavor and/or to preserve food

It seems to me from the language and grammar of Matt 5:13, Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34, and Col 4:6, that the purpose of salt in those passages is to enhance flavor and make otherwise naturally insipid and/or bad-tasting things palatable.

For example; gracious speech, seasoned with salt as per Col 4:6 would infer a civil tongue in one's head that's easy on people's nerves; in other words: conversation that lacks irritation; viz: sarcasm, undue criticism, rejoinders, smart aleck retorts, profanity, recriminations, crude suggestions, thoughtless remarks, ridicule, demeaning comments, sneering, scorn, rejoinders, half truths, mockery, fault finding, dishonesty, deception, semantic double-speak, clever sophistry, interruptions, yelling, quarreling, and name calling; etc.

Salt in one's speech then, would include things like honesty, forthrightness, praise, courtesy, friendliness, gratitude, leniency, patience, tolerance, kindness, and gentleness. In other words: conversation that makes an effort to maintain peace rather than provoke conflict and/or make people uncomfortable.

†. Jas 1:26 . .Whoever considers himself spiritual, and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

†. Jas 3:5-12 . . See how whole forests are kindled by little fires! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

. . .With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both bitter water and sweet.

By far, the most toxic tongues I have ever been subjected to by Christians have been those on internet forums. Supposed followers of Christ whack each other with the Bible as if Samson were decimating the Philistines with a burro's jaw bone, and pontificate their interpretations as if they were infallible and speaking for God ex cathedra; yet all the while without the slightest consideration for what their choice of words might be doing to people's feelings.

†. Rom 3:13 . .The poison of a deadly snake drips from their lips.


NOTE: Jesus said that everyone would be salted with fire (Mark 9:49).

That's a difficult passage to interpret to every denomination's satisfaction, but it appears to me that the "everyone" in v49 pertains to the people in the verses preceding it who are destined to be incarcerated in a flaming substance that's never to be extinguished. (cf. Rev 20:10-15)

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257) Col 4:16 . . After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

That directive has little application today except to point out that the epistles are meant to be studied in every Christian church; not just special Christian churches.

258) Col 4:17 . . And say to Archippus : Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.

Archippus was a person of interest in the church at Colossae that met together in Philemon's home. (Php 1:1-3)

Paul's directive targeted a specific person of interest, but it can just as easily apply to any believer in a "calling" (cf. Rom 12:6-8)

259) 1Ths 4:1-2 . . Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

The tally of Christ's commandments at this point is 259. I assume my believing audience is already complying with them, and that's good. But to "excel" in them, requires constant use: like mastering violin, knitting, surgery, fly fishing, or shooting trap and skeet. They say practice makes perfect; and I'm inclined to agree because the more something is practiced, the more it becomes a habit instead of an effort.

For safety reasons, X-ray welding certifications typically expire in six months-- and some in only three depending upon the parameters --if the welder doesn't work with the certified process during that time. The certifying agency assumes welders lose their touch if they don't keep at it.

Keeping up the good work is all the same as flossing your teeth every night because a lack of practice will lead one into bad habits. Even Derek Jeter would've soon lost his edge had he taken too long a break from playing baseball.

†. 1Tim 4:8-9 . . Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. This is true, and everyone should accept it.

The reward promised in this life is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:19-25) which is broken down into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

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260) 1Ths 4:3-5 . . It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;

Some folk, not quite understanding the nature of the Spirit birth about which John wrote in John 1:12-13 and about which Christ spoke in John 3:3-8, have been led to believe that born-again Christians are supposed to be free of their libido and their romantic impulses. Well, obviously not, or why else would it be God's will to control them?

There's a downside to sleeping around; not only a spiritual downside but a practical downside too. The below is from a study done by two psychology researchers from the university of Denver after studying 418 people who participated in a Relationship Development Study.

"The more sexual partners one sleeps with prior to marriage, the less quality of life they can expect to have in marriage. This also goes for people who shack up prior to marriage; even among those whose only sexual partner has been the person they eventually marry. People who have been through a divorce, or who had shacked up with someone before meeting their current spouse, were also less likely to have a high-quality marriage."

261) 1Ths 4:6 . . and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

"this matter" refers to adultery.

†. Heb 13:4 . . Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Christians commit adultery with Christians? Haw! Does that even need to be answered? Of course they do; and it goes on all the time, even among church officers; who by all rights should be setting the example for the rank and file.

My wife was once friends with the wife of a counselor in a very big church in San Diego. She confided with my wife (on the QT of course) that it was amazing the number of church officers and their wives who were messing around. She couldn't reveal their names of course due to privacy considerations.

262) 1Ths 4:6-8 . . God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

God's rules are the edicts of a monarch; and He expects compliance; but because people hear His rules as hear-say rather than straight from the horse's mouth, they quite naturally tend to be scofflaws.


NOTE: Why "gives" the Spirit instead of gave? Well; although Christ's followers are all equally endowed with the Spirit (1Cor 6:19) it's benefits are not equally doled. The fruit of the Spirit as per Gal 5:22-23 has a string attached: compliance with Christ's wishes; viz: when Christ's followers go rogue and live in accordance with their base nature, they die (John 15:1-10, Rom 8:5-13). In other words: the fruit of the Spirit is withheld.

263) 1Ths 4:11a . . Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business

†. Pro 26:17 . . Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.

In other words: DON'T get in the middle of disagreements that don't concern you. People resent that. You'll just end up taking sides and that is a really unwise thing to do because you'll make unnecessary enemies like that. Even someone who was once your very best friend can become alienated from you if you take a side against them in a matter that's none of your business.

264) 1Ths 4:11b-12 . . and to work with your own hands, just as we instructed you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders; and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

In times of economic stress, such as the one the USA is experiencing these days due to the 2008 Wall Street collapse, downsizing, wage reductions, corporations expatriating for tax advantages and/or outsourcing and moving their manufacturing offshore to take advantage of cheap labor and skimpy government controls; a pretty large percentage of America's employable Christians are out of work not because they are lazy free-loaders; but because their opportunities for full time work with decent wages and benefits are steadily declining.

So tread lightly when services like SNAP, TANF, Unemployment Benefits, etc come up in conversations. Innocent people's feeling might get hurt if you become too critical of those kinds of social services. And don't ever assume that you are immune to poverty. It can happen to anyone; even overnight and then you'll be looking around for assistance; maybe even from the very agencies that you at one time thought were below you.

265) 1Ths 4:18 . .Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Below are the words to which Paul referred

†. 1Ths 4:13-11 . . Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

. . . For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

None of our circumstances are permanent; none, because Christ's followers are on their way to something better; and bumps in the road are not the end of the road; they're just inconveniences.

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266) 1Ths 5:5-6 . . We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.

Is it possible for a Christian to be asleep at the wheel? Yes, absolutely or why else would Paul encourage his friends to remain wide-awake and bushy-tailed?

†. Mark 4:18-19 . . Others are like seed sown among thorns: they hear the word; but are distracted by the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth; and longings for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Well, the lesson is obvious. Christians ought not to be distracted by worldly pursuits to such an extent that the day about which the Lord spoke comes as a big disappointment. No; they ought to be glad to see it rather than be all broken up about it because like it nor not; Christians take no more out with them than the lost when they leave this sphere. So try not to get too attached.

†. 1Tim 6:7 . . For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

267) 1Ths 5:8 . . Since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

The hope of salvation isn't a wishing hope, nor is it a hope-for-the-best hope, nor a cross-your-fingers hope. The koiné Greek word is elpis (el-pece') which means to anticipate with pleasure and confident expectation.

Anticipation is way different than wishful thinking. When a daddy loads up the car with wife and kids for a day at Six Flags, his family is no longer wishing he'd take them there. No, they're in the car and on the way. They no longer wish, but are now looking forward to having a day of great fun, food, and excitement. That's elpis hope.

268) 1Ths 5:11 . . Therefore encourage one another, and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Building believers up is just the opposite of tearing them down. Those in Galatia were busy doing just that.

†. Gal 5:15 . . But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another!

269) 1Ths 5:12-13a . . Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.

Real men respect real men. When church officers are mice; then 1Ths 5:12-13a becomes a challenge for real men to obey; but regardless; comply they must.

†. Heb 13:17 . . Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

I would say that if the officers in your church are just too impossible for you to respect then it's time to abandon ship. Don't mutiny though because mutiny is just as much a sin as heresy. The rank and file aren't called to reform church officers; but to cooperate with them. If they can't cooperate with them; then I sincerely believe the rank and file should leave and find a church where they can because the Lord isn't pleased with grudging compliance; but rather with whole-hearted compliance.

270) 1Ths 5:13b . . Live in peace with each other.

The category of peace Paul is talking about is social; viz: harmony in personal relations. The Hippies and the peace-nics failed to achieve peace primarily because they couldn't be civil among themselves unless they were high on mood-altering drugs.

Peace can be defined as: calm, pacific, tranquil, at rest, quiet, and free of trouble and strife.

A lack of peace is characterized by war, quarrelling, vendettas, hostility, grudging, fault finding, nit picking, chafing, competition, rivalry, cold shouldering, factions, taking sides, cliques, disorder, antagonism, fighting, conflict, struggles, et al.

One of the keynotes of Messiah's kingdom is peace. (Isa 9:6-7)

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271) 1Ths 5:14a . . And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly

The koiné Greek word for "unruly" is ataktos (at-ak'-toce) which means: irregular; viz: out of order; disorderly. Unruly people are like kindergartners; but that's to be expected from their age group: little kids are disruptive, they're boisterous, they go off-subject and say whatever they want right out of the blue, they provoke and antagonize each other, they don't listen, they talk out of turn, they're impulsive, they can't stay in their seats, and they meddle and can't mind their own business.

When I see four supposedly adult women on television like "The View" throwing hissy fits and walking off the set, and/or talking out of turn; and spontaneously interrupting each other in mid sentence-- sometimes all four speaking at once --I have to wonder. And so-called presidential debates where two supposedly mature adults, competing for the power to run the country, are quarrelling, calling each other names, and both talking at once and trying to talk over each other rather than taking turns; I get disgusted. God forbid that Christ's followers act like that either in church or out in the world.

272) 1Ths 5:14b . . comfort the discouraged

A discouraged person is someone who's given up all hope that a situation will improve or change; viz: despair.

In order to obey that directive, it's necessary to become personal with the people with whom you attend church. Too many Christians are like little islands of humanity in church. They warm a pew on Sunday morning and then get up and leave without bothering to spend even one minute mingling. They don't attend Sunday school because in Sunday school you meet people-- you associate with them; you get to know them, and they get to know you.

As disagreeable as that might be for private types of Christians, Sunday school is the best place in church to go for sympathy, for encouragement, and for support. Unfortunately, not many Christians can deal with negativity; and tend to distance themselves from people down in the dumps.


NOTE: In Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book "Ten Stupid Things That Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives" she lists men's propensity to fix things. In other words: instead of simply lending a sympathetic ear to people's problems, some men tend to see people with problems as "broken" and in need of repair; and then of course they take the initiative to begin offering unsolicited remedies. No; the idea is to console the discouraged, not to "fix" them.

But even Sunday schools have their problems. If the class size is enormous, then you will be swallowed up and no more visible than a termite in the floor boards. Look for small classes; especially those where the people sit around tables rather than in rows of chairs. You get to meet people around tables, while rows of chairs tend to isolate people from one another.

And don't forget your church's pastors, deacons, and elders. They need encouragement and support too just like anybody else. Don't ever assume your leaders are rocks who don't need anybody. No, they're only human, and if they're truly humble, they'll really appreciate your interest in their welfare-- usually.

I once complimented a young speaker at a men's breakfast about the lecture he delivered that morning. He glared at me with daggers-- his mouth a tight grimace, his eyes narrow slits of hate and suspicion --and turned away without speaking a single word in response. That young man's reaction took me by surprise; chilling me to the bone and causing me to forget everything he said that day up in front. Obviously he was a rock in his own mind and insulted by encouragement from the audience. Well, I kept my distance from then on. God pity a church with people like that on staff.

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273) 1Ths 5:14c . . support the weak

This actually means to care for your church's aged and/or infirm; viz; people on crutches, people getting around in wheel chairs, people who can no longer drive a car, people lacking enough health to even leave their residences and go shopping on their own, people stuck in assisted living: that sort of thing.

274) 1Ths 5:14d . . Be patient with all men.

Most of us are selective with our patience. But the Lord mandates patience with "all" men, not just favorites. This relates to the directive that commands believers to value others as better than themselves. (Php 2:2-3)

275) 1Ths 5:15 . . See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Christian conduct isn't a temporary uniform kept in the closet just for Sunday mornings like the rather odd patrons who wear costumes at Star Trek conventions. No, Christian conduct is every-day wear: in the home, on the job, at school, at the beach, at the mall, at the park, at the beach, in restaurants, in amusement centers, at the zoo, at the circus, et al; in other words: ever-followed; not just at church on Sunday morning.

276) 1Ths 5:16 . . Rejoice evermore.

"evermore" doesn't mean some of the time, nor most of the time; but rather, it means all the time.

277) 1Ths 5:17 . . pray continually

The koiné Greek word for "continually" is adialeiptos (ad-ee-al-ipe'-toce) which means: uninterruptedly; viz: without omission. Webster's defines omission as: 1) something neglected or left undone, and 2) apathy toward, or neglect of, duty.

Believers who pray seldom, or not at all, are like a young man in the military who never writes home until his parents complain about his silence. I wrote home so infrequently when I was in the US Army back in the 1960's that my dad finally threatened to contact my company commander about it. (I thought that rather out of character for my dad since he never really cared anything about what I was doing all the years when I lived at home.)

You know, I have to admit, that even if I had a red phone installed in my home with a direct connection to God's desk, it would gather cobwebs from lack of use. I sometimes suspect that's one of the reasons trouble comes our way. It's to provoke some of us to call home.

It's not that I don't like God; it's just that all my life I've been conditioned to feel peripheral, and important to no one. My natural siblings are just the opposite. They have always perceived themselves at the center of the universe-- essential to its existence --while I have always perceived myself as not even belonging in the universe; let alone being at its center and/or having anything to do with its existence.

One evening, while attending a single's group at church back in the 1970's, the leader of the group went around the room asking each of us to name something special about ourselves. I could not think of a single thing; while another in the room said everything about themselves was special. They weren't being vain; they were being honest. That fortunate person had a very good self image and a healthy appreciation for their own worth.

It's very difficult for Christians like myself to believe that Christ's Father has any real interest in us. We have always believed ourselves ostracized, unnecessary, marginal, unwanted, and unimportant-- but we're used to it so it's no big deal.

But feelings of unimportance are a handicap: not just in life, but in the spiritual realm too. It is just about nigh unbearable for believers like myself to comply with 1Ths 5:17 since we simply cannot believe ourselves missed by anyone; especially Christ's Father who we believe in our hearts must certainly prefer the company of people far more interesting than ourselves. But that command applies to everybody whether we think God cares or not. All must comply; no exceptions.

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278) 1Ths 5:18 . . Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

The koiné Greek word for "give thanks" is eucharisteo (yoo-khar-is-teh'-o) which means to be grateful. This goes much deeper than just common courtesy. Appreciation is an attitude; which Webster's defines as: to value or admire highly.

They say every cloud has a silver lining. Whether that's so or not matters little as one should never let disagreeable circumstances make them bitter and resentful towards the Bible's God; for example:

†. Job 1:20-22 . .Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. Yhvh gave and Yhvh has taken away. Blessed be the name of Yhvh. Through all this Job did not sin nor did he condemn God.

†. Hab 3:17-18 . . Although the fig tree fails to blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in Yhvh, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Regardless of what the unbelieving world may say, think, or feel about the Bible's God, the one thing He's done for me that I will always sincerely appreciate is donate His one and only son towards rescuing my soul from a terrible future.

†. John 3:16-17 . . For God so cared for the world that He sacrificed His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God didn't send His son into the world to condemn it, but to rescue it.

279) 1Ths 5:19 . . Quench not the Spirit.

The koiné Greek word for "quench" is sbennumi (sben'-noo-mee) which means: to extinguish.

When we put out the lights nowadays, we do it with a mechanical device like a switch or a circuit breaker because they're electric. But in those days, all illumination was produced by fire, e.g. oil, pitch, wood, and/or candles. I think it goes without saying that when a believer has managed to extinguish the Spirit; they're walking in the dark; which throws them out of sync with God.

†. 1John 1:6 . . If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth

Fellowship has nothing to do with heaven and/or hell. Fellowship is related to the nature of a believer's association with the paterfamilias of the family of God. For example, a rebellious teen-ager may not be getting along with its parents, but the mom and dad are still that teen-ager's parents regardless, The nature of the family's association may be temporarily dysfunctional but no amount of bad behavior can undo the family as kin-- ever.

280) 1Ths 5:20 . . Do not despise prophecies.

Webster's defines "despise" as (1) to look down on with contempt, loathing, or aversion, (2) to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful, and (3) to regard as unworthy of one's notice or consideration.

The Old Testament is specifically stated to be useful to Christians.

†. Luke 24:44-45 . . He said to them : This is what I told you while I was still with you : Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

†. Rom 15:4 . .Whatever things were written before, were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Pastors, especially, should devote some of their time to studying the Old Testament.

†. 2Tim 3:16-17 . . 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 perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Worldly Christians are prone to put far more value on showy spirituality like tongues than they do on preaching; which is actually a sign of immaturity and a lack of appreciation for skills that really matter.

I think some Christians, if offered a choice between being a soloist in the choir, or an effective Sunday school teacher, would choose being the soloist because that's more glamorous than teaching; but if the Lord were given the same choice, he would choose teaching. (e.g. Luke 10:38-41)

281) 1Ths 5:20-22 . . Evaluate everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

I often see Christians parrot "By their fruits you shall know them". But they seem unaware that fruit inspectors require specialized training before they're qualified to distinguish between the good fruit from the unacceptable fruit. Worldly Christians especially are in no condition to discern between good and unacceptable because they've quenched the Spirit and walk in the dark. To a worldly Christian that which is good is unacceptable, and that which is unacceptable is good. Subsequently, they do just the opposite of Paul's directive: they abstain from good rather than evil; and then wonder why the paterfamilias of the family of God is a stranger.

282) 1Ths 5:25 . . Brethren, pray for us.

The pronoun "us" refers to Paul and his associates; but could just as easily apply to anyone who represents Christ; e.g. evangelists, missionaries, pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and elders.

283) 1Ths 5:26 . . Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.

Kissing was a common form of greeting in the old world, and still is in some places today. Kissing is risky though because it can easily turn from holy kissing into sensual kissing. I'd say let your own culture be your guide in this area. The kiss itself isn't really mandatory anyway, it's the greeting that counts; and believers are to greet all the brethren, not just their favorites. Don't be an elitist snob.

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284) 1Ths 5:27 . . I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

None of the epistles are "eyes only" for the big shots in church. All church members are supposed to have access to them, and expected to know what's in them. How else are they to evaluate everything carefully, and hold fast to that which is good, and abstain from every form of evil if they aren't given access to the epistles?

The gospel conveys sinners into the family of God, while the epistles instruct the family how to behave as family members; so you can see that the epistles have a very important role in the lives of believers.

†. 1Tim 3:14-15 . . I am writing these things to you now-- even though I hope to be with you soon --so that if I can't come for a while, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God.

285) 2Ths 2:1-2 . . Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day of Christ is at hand.

The "day of Christ" can be defined as all that terrible stuff that's to take place in the book of Revelation; which Isa 13:9 describes as "cruel". Paul is saying that Christ's followers need not be nervous about it because they are slated to be spared all of that.

†. 1Thes 1:10 . .Wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.

†. 1Thes 5:9-10 . . For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him

286) 2Ths 2:3-4 . . Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, presenting himself that he is God.

One of the salient features of the day of Christ is that there will be a one-world religion. All currently known forms of religion will be banned upon penalty of death. That means Christianity in all its Protestant and Catholic forms and denominations will be illegal; as well as Islam, Mormonism, Baha'i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Scientology, et al, and even atheism and agnosticism-- everybody will be required to worship that man of sin; the son of perdition.

The koiné Greek word for "falling away" is apostasia (ap-os-tas-ee'-ah) which means: defection from truth; viz: apostasy. This is not the same as heresy. An heretic stays with a church and undermines its unity by subtly introducing unapproved doctrines; while an apostate doesn't stay, but instead totally renounces a church and walks away; sort of like a Baptist switching over to Mormonism; and vice/versa.

In the future; people will apostatize to save their skins and here's why:

†. Rev 13:11-15 . . And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.

. . . And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

In my opinion, the man to fear is not the first beast, but the second because of his miraculous powers. Anyway since no one on earth at present has fulfilled any of those predictions, then it's a safe bet that the day of Christ isn't in progress yet so don't worry about it. In point of fact, believers are commanded to abstain from worrying about it.

287) 2Ths 2:15 . . So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

The "traditions" to which Paul refers are in two categories: (1) word of mouth, and (2) in writing. Seeing as how Paul and his contemporaries are no longer available for personal appearances, then the only reliable traditions in existence are the ones they left us in writing; viz: their letters; those written by Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude.

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288) 2Ths 3:6-10 . . In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it.

. . . On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

People unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control are exempt from that directive. It specifically targets what we here in the USA call a bum: which Webster's defines as someone who sponges off others not because they can't find work; but because they have an aversion to work; viz: they avoid work as if it were an inconvenient imposition on their leisure time.

289) 2Ths 3:11-13 . .We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

Some might not think that holding down a job qualifies as worship but it certainly does. Working for a living is categorized as "doing what is right". So then, since the fruit of The Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth (Eph 5:8-9) then working for a living is Spirit-worthy.

290) 2Ths 3:14 . . If anyone does not obey our commands in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.

Back then when churches were small enough to meet in homes rather than auditoriums that seat hundreds of people, it was easy to keep an eye on Christ's followers and hold their feet to the fire. Nowadays, forget it. Church sizes are such that management hasn't a clue what's going on in the lives of their membership roles. As a result, modern churches are permeated with conduct unbecoming.

291) 2Ths 3:15 . .Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Mandatory consequences were usually for the purpose of discipline; viz: child rearing. So when officers ostracize one of Christ's followers, the congregation should keep in mind that the errant follower is one of their own: a sibling around the table in God's home. So wayward followers shouldn't be permanently culled from the herd as if they're the devil in disguise. They aren't devils; no, they're just naughty kids deserving a whipping. (cf. 2Cor 2:6-11)

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292) 1Tim 1:3-5 . . As I urged you when I went into Macedonia-- remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

The epistles of Timothy and Titus are sometimes called the pastoral epistles because Paul's instructions target mainly church managers rather than congregations.

The "no other doctrine" is the information he mentioned in another letter.

†. 2Ths 2:15 . . So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

It was one of the Lord's last wishes that his church be unified.

†. John 17:11 . . And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

The sphere of Christianity today isn't unified; and actually, hasn't been since the first century. Even while the apostles were still alive, even in their own day, professing Christians were already breaking away and starting apostate movements (e.g. Gal 1:6-9, 1Tim 1:3-4, 2Tim 2:15-18, 1John 2:18-19, Jud 1:17-19). And churches were infested with counterfeit believers (2Cor 11:13, 2Cor 11:26, Gal 2:4, 2Pet 2:1, 1John 4:1). It's just amazing how soon that happened.

Somewhere within Christianity's world of chaos is Christ's unified church. One denomination says it's theirs, while another says it's theirs. Christianity truly is a world of confusion because not every church's managers are standing firm and holding to the traditions taught in the New Testament letters.

293) 1Tim 2:1-2 . . First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

I really don't think that passage is speaking of the common understanding of what we call intercession, rather that prayer be made in people's stead, i.e. do their praying for them by means of proxy prayer.

Not all men, nor all kings, nor all in authority are people of prayer. In point of fact, I'd guess that most people never pray; not even on special occasions; and even so, there's a pretty good number of people throughout the world praying to the wrong deity. Well; it's possible, I don't know how, for Christians to be the voice of the world's prayer-challenged folk.

Proxy prayer is unusual but not all that far fetched. For example Rom 8:26-27 where the Spirit is shown praying in the saints' stead simply because when it comes to prayer; they're clumsy amateurs; even the best of them.

Proxy prayer is hinted in the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God in the form of the morning and evening sacrifices (Ex 29:38-42, cf. Job 1:5). Those sacrifices are offered without the people's consent just as Christ offered himself on the cross without the world's consent. But sans the cross and/or sans the morning and evening sacrifices, people would have very little association with God; if any.

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294) 1Tim 2:8-9 . . I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and evil thoughts.

Lifting up one's hands is the posture of an anxious beggar seeking charity and compassion. Holy hands are hands dedicated to serving Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively. Other kinds of hands should be kept at one's side till such a time as they qualify as holy.

The koiné Greek word for "wrath" is orge (or-gay') which means: hot desire. Orge is sometimes translated anger, indignation, and vengeance. The idea is that a believer should never pray out of spite and/or use prayer as a tool to hurt somebody's feelings. That is the ugliest abuse of the privilege of prayer that I can possibly imagine. In my opinion, people who pray out of spite are no different than slanderers, witches, sorcerers and voodoo priests. Especially annoying are people who can't keep a civil tongue in their heads, and then have the nerve to say "you're in our prayers"

295) 1Tim 2:9-10 . . In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becomes women professing piety) with good works.

Women are not exempt from the directive to abstain from wrath and evil thoughts. And their hands ought to be holy hands too; viz: doing good instead of up to no good.

Some folk, obsessed with asceticism, use that verse to prove it's wrong for women to use cosmetics and dress themselves in current fashions. But the passage doesn't forbid that. What it forbids is a woman putting a higher priority on her appearance than her character.

The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" applies here as well as in literature. I've met women with tattoos, studs in their tongues, multicolored hair, fishnet stockings, outrageous earrings, tight-fitting concert tee shirts, low-slung hip huggers, and black lipstick that were really peaches while I've met dignified, neatly dressed women with horrible personalities. They say a rose in any language is still a rose; yeah, well, a pig, no matter how it's dressed, is still a pig whether in belly shirts and flip-flops or haute couture.

†. Prv 11:22 . . An attractive woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout. (cf. 1Pet 3:1-6)

The koiné Greek word for "shamefacedness" is aidos (ahee-doce') which means: bashfulness; which is just the opposite of insolence, impudence, and brazenness. Bashful people have a hard time looking people in the eye because they are so shy, non-confrontational, timid, self conscious, and non-assertive. What we're looking at here relates to one of the Lord's beatitudes.

†. Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

That beatitude was taken from the book of Isaiah.

†. Isa 66:2 . .But on this one will I look: on him who is of a poor and contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.

The koine word for "sobriety" is sophrosune (so-fros-oo'-nay) which means soundness of mind; viz: sane, composed, and self controlled. A woman in the throes of hysteria, passionate rage, door-slamming, or a hissy fit does not quality a sophrosune.

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296) 1Tim 2:11 . . Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

The koiné Greek word for "quietly" is hesuchia (hay-soo-khee'-ah) which mean: stillness; viz: desistance from bustle or language, i.e. comments and remarks.

The submissiveness Paul is talking about is not abject servitude; but rather, deference.

You know; it's okay for a woman to feel within herself equal to men. The truly strong women, the ones sure of themselves, don't have to demand equality; they've got it, they know it, and they're content with that. They don't feel a desperate urge to take a public stand on the issue via activism.

I can think of very few other things that Christian women do to humiliate Christ than going to war over equality because there's nothing intrinsically holy about civil disobedience, belligerence, hostility, assertiveness, demands, and confrontational behavior; which a really sharp woman can rationalize and defend with the cleverest of sophistry, but she'll still be in the wrong.

297) 1Tim 2:12-15 . . I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

In the "my" church of Matt 16:18, male Christians are the gender designated to captain the ships; not the females. I pity a church supervised by female managers and pastors. Why? Because it tells me that Christ is not active in that church providing it with the tools the congregation needs in order to serve him faithfully, loyally, and effectively. The men in that church need to lift up holy hands and pray that Christ send them males to replace the females; and if not, then the men should evacuate-- now! --while they can.

298) 1Tim 2:15 . . Women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

In other words, it isn't necessary for women to be pastors, deacons, and/or adult Sunday school teachers in order to serve Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively. Homemaking is just as high a calling as any in church.

Can a female church manager or a pastor; continue in faith, love, and sanctity with self-restraint? In point of fact, it is a non sequitur to say a female church manager or pastor continues in faith. If she did, she would be neither a church manager nor a pastor. This is precisely why God rejected Cain's offering. It was a perfectly good offering, and no doubt Cain had brought God the very same thing in the past, but God rejected it that time because that's the one time that Cain failed to offer it in faith. (Gen 4:7, Heb 11:4)

299) 1Tim 3:2a . . An overseer, then, must be above reproach

The koiné Greek word for "overseer" is episkopos (ep-is'-kop-os) which means: a superintendent; viz: church officers, e,g, pastors and deacons.

Pastors and deacons of modern churches aren't really pastors in the true Biblical sense; they're actually managers. A true pastor is essentially a shepherd; which is totally different (and somewhat rare too). In point of fact, pastors no longer supervise churches at all; boards run churches, and pastors are merely employees; viz: hirelings.

To tell the truth, I'm afraid of today's career pastors; I don't trust them, and do my best to avoid them because I don't feel safe in their presence; which is very abnormal. If there's anybody on God's green earth that the Lord's sheep should be able to trust, it's their local shepherd but far too many church managers today regard their congregations as numbers rather than responsibilities.

Why must pastors be above reproach? Because the work they do is a "good" work (1Tim 3:1) but much good can be ruined by even a little wickedness.

†. Ecc 10:1 . . Dead insects will cause even a bottle of perfume to stink! Yes, an ounce of foolishness can outweigh a pound of wisdom and honor.

Before the wonders of modern chemistry, perfumes were made (and many still are) from animal and vegetable sources. Those, being 100% organic in a time when chemical preservatives didn't exists, could spoil if the perfumer wasn't careful to keep his product protected from exposure to temperature, insects, dirt, moisture, and other contaminants. All the skills and patience and knowledge exercised in the making of expensive ointments could be completely annulled by simply forgetting to put the cap (or the cork; whatever) back on a jar.

Anyway, Ecc 10:1 certainly rings true in this day and age as the Roman Catholic Church's credibility steadily diminishes because of its ongoing pedophilia scandals and the hierarchy's deplorable cover-ups.

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300) 1Tim 3:2b . . the husband of one wife

That directive is a bit ambiguous. Some feel it says a pastor can have only one wife at a time; viz: not a polygamist; while others feel it says he can be married only once in his lifetime; viz: not a widower or a divorced man.

I tend to think it means one wife at a time. If so; then this passage, and Titus 1:5-6 have the distinction of being the only places in the entire Bible prohibiting polygamy.

However; the stipulation is very narrow. It specifically regulates the home life of a church's big shots, so it would be wrong to use those passages to justify forcing monogamy upon the rank and file. However, if polygamy conflicts with the laws of one's state of residence, then of course the State has the final say in that regard. (cf. Rom 13:1-5)

301) 1Tim 3:2c . . temperate

The koiné Greek word for "temperate" can be either nephaleos (nay-fal'-eh-os); or nephalios (nay-fal'-ee-os) and means: sober. This kind of sobriety has nothing to do with alcohol rather it relates to an even-keeled personality: not overly silly, not overly excitable and not overly serious: right in the middle; viz: well-balanced.

302) 1Tim 3:2d . . prudent

The koiné word for "prudent" is sophron (so'-frone) which means: having a sound mind; viz: rational, reasonable, and sensible as opposed to emotional and reactive.

303) 1Tim 3:2e . . respectable

The koiné Greek word for "respectable" is kosmios (kos'-mee-os) which means: orderly, viz: decorous.

Webster's defines decorous as marked by propriety; viz: correct; and exhibiting good taste in conduct, language, or appearance. A decorous person is-- among other things --neat, tidy, well-mannered, well-groomed, and polite. They bathe often too.

304) 1Tim 3:2f. . hospitable

The koiné word for "hospitable" is philoxenos (fil-ox'-en-os) which means: fond of guests. In other words, a pastor shouldn't be a hermit type, or a friendless loner who prefers solitude. Not that there's anything wrong with hermits and loners; it's just that pastors are supposed to be shepherds, which requires them to associate with their flock. A man who doesn't mingle easily and comfortably really should consider another line of work.

305) 1Tim 3:2g . . able to teach

Just because somebody has a head full of knowledge and wisdom doesn't mean they are able to teach it to others. Teaching is a skill that requires an aptitude; in point of fact, teaching Christ's sheep requires a supernatural aptitude; viz: a gift.

†. Rom 12:6-7 . . Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching

306) 1Tim 3:3a . . not addicted to wine

Pastors aren't forbidden alcohol; just too much alcohol.

†. 1Tim 5:23 . . No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

A "little" wine can lead to a lot for someone with a predilection to over-imbibe. For people like that, it's best to avoid wine altogether rather than risk becoming a candidate for AA.

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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307) 1Tim 3:3b . . not pugnacious

Webster's defines pugnacious as: militant, defensive, warlike, combative, confrontational, pushy, assertive, scrappy, and belligerent. Some men are natural-born bullies and others are ready to "take it outside" at every challenge. You sure don't want one of them in your pulpit. God forbid!

308) 1Tim 3:3c . . gentle, non contentious

A good pastor isn't what might be called shrinking; but rather, he's an affable, courageous man who selects his conflicts carefully. For some people, every disagreement is an act of war: they're assertive, demanding, reactive, defensive, and confrontational not just some of the time; but all the time. A gentle man is not so quick to draw his guns at the slightest provocation. However, though shepherds walk softly so as not to frighten the sheep; at the same time; they carry a big stick.

309) 1Tim 3:3d . . free from the love of money.

L.Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, started out as an author of pulp fiction novels for a penny per word. One day he came to the conclusion that the real money was in religion, especially if it had a non-profit tax exemption. Well; today, the net worth of just the top three of Scientology's upwards of thirty entities-- Scientology International, the Flag Service Organization, and the Church Of Spiritual Technology --is in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion dollars. The personal net worth of David Miscavige, Scientology's current head, is rumored to be somewhere around 50 million. It's very curious how a supposedly non-profit church, and it's head, amassed such fortunes.

Back in 1988-99, a tel-evangelist named James Orsen Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in Federal prison (later reduced to 8) for embezzling millions of dollars from his own ministry and using some of the money to construct an extravagant mansion-- complete with gold plumbing --for he and wife Tammy, and a luxurious kennel for their pet dog.

I would highly recommend that a prospective pastor's background be checked before proceeding with the interview process. Is his credit good? Does he have gambling debts? Does he prefer gourmet foods and restaurants? Does he wear Armani suits, hand-made shoes, a Cartier wrist watch, and drive a Lexus? What's his current home worth? What part of town does he live in? . . because, unfortunately, there are men out there seeking careers in the business of religion, and are very good at finding ways to get their fingers in a church's treasury-- and not a few are looking for lucrative wage and benefit packages instead of an opportunity to serve Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively; and to look out for his best interests instead of their own.

310) 1Tim 3:4-5 . . He must manage his own family well, and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)

There's respect, and then there's "proper" respect which has to be nurtured because a father cannot get proper respect by force. Tyranny doesn't earn respect; it earns fear, suspicion, mistrust, and dread. Instilling fear into the hearts of one's children is sure to backfire some day when they're older.

Back in Ephesians, we pointed out that children are discouraged by fathers that abuse their human rights. Well, abusive pastors are just as bad. Despots and dictators are certain to discourage their congregations just as surely as abusive fathers break their children's spirit.

Managing a home falls into the category of stewardship; which is a power very easily abused if one isn't careful. I would say that Joseph was a good steward because he didn't use his power for personal gain, but rather for the protection of the Egyptians under whom Pharaoh put his control. But not all stewards are like Joseph.

Take for example Bhumibol Adulyadej, the late king of Thailand. His personal wealth at the time of his death was estimated to be 30 billion dollars. I really have to question the integrity of a steward who goes to his grave with 30 billion dollars the meanwhile that poverty levels in his country are rising.

311) 1Tim 3:6 . . He must not be a novice, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the Devil.

A novice doesn't have enough life experience under his belt-- hard knocks and soft knocks, victory and defeat, accolades and disgrace, good luck and bad luck, success and failure, acceptance and rejection, mistakes and corrections, abundant opportunity and limited opportunity, poverty and riches, sorrow and happiness, faithful friends and back-stabbing friends, etc --to shepherd Christ's people. Youngsters coming out of seminaries these days think they're ready to take the reins? They haven't a clue.

There's nothing wrong with a healthy self-image; but a conceited person is above and beyond; actually to the point of narcissism. They're infected with unbearable superiority complexes. But let me tell those fat heads something: the world was getting by just fine before you came along, and it will get by just fine after you're gone. Don't even think for a minute that you can't be replaced.

A serious side effect of conceit is self reliance. In other words: it's possible to think of one's self as so competent, and so in with God, that they take His providence for granted; or worse, take it or leave it.

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