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Posts Tagged ‘1 Thessalonians’


KJV and NKJV Scripture

– Let us hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering; for He is faithful as promised. – Hebrews 10:23

– That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.  By the trickery of man, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. – Ephesians 4:14

The phrase “hold fast” means to remain tightly and firmly secured to something or someone.  With God, it means the ability to stay steadfast and stable in spirit throughout every day, regardless of the situation or circumstance.  It means not letting go of heavenly instructions, for they are our life (Proverbs 4:13).

If you are a true Christian, then you have been born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  When this happened, you were returned to the Shepherd of your soul (1 Peter 2:25).  An anchor of hope was placed in you with Christ (Hebrews 6:19).  Tightly securing you to Jesus, so you don’t keep wavering in faith and belief.

When physical ships encounter stormy seas, anything not securely fastened to the deck gets tossed around. Essential items to the voyage get badly damaged or destroyed.  Some of these vessels can veer off course in wild weather without seasoned captains and crews, proper ballast, and functional navigational systems.

The same goes for spiritual ships (e.g. discipleship, fellowship, worship, etc.).  However, our spirits are irreplaceable.  If they are not securely tied to Christ inside us at all times, they get tossed around in the storms life can often bring without warning.  Satan is always waiting with open arms during such occasions.

This is why we must keep in memory everything we hear from God.  So we don’t get deceived by the devil or mortal men (Revelation 12:9, Mark 13:5) and led away in err (2 Peter 3:17, James 1:16).  If they steer us to unsalvageable faith shipwrecks, our belief ends up in vain (1 Timothy 1:191 Corinthians 15:2).

Any time we let go of Jesus, we start to list in spirit and begin tilting in belief.  If this continues, we can swerve away from truth (1 Timothy 1:6).  If we look away from Christ for a second, we can start getting frightened by all that is happening in life, and begin sinking in our littleness of faith (Matthew 14:28-31).

Wavering walks with God aren’t the way to steadfastly travel down heaven’s narrow path few will find.  To enter in at the straight gate, and be made partakers of Christ at the end (Matthew 7:14, Hebrews 3:14). This, after enduring everything God commands us to along the way (Hebrews 12:20, Matthew 24:13).

Christians with any selfish and/or worldly focuses to their walk, generally find a solid faith and balanced belief only when self is being served (Matthew 16:24), or lusts are regularly being satisfied (Proverbs 27:20). Otherwise, spiritual wavering enters.  Then, drifting between world and Word starts (1 Corinthians 10:21).

Salvation is a hope and promise no man has seen.  If Christians think they have been saved already (as so many seem to believe), why would they still have to hope for it (Romans 8:24-25)?  Salvation is the end result of our faith – not the beginning of it, or at any other point somewhere along the path (1 Peter 1:9).

Faith is something we contend for, just like the kind delivered to the saints of yore (Jude 1:3).  If we claim hope in Jesus, we hold fast to this profession without wavering (lead verse).  Girding up our loins, being sober, and hoping to the end for God’s saving grace to be brought at Christ’s revelation (1 Peter 1:13).

Faith is a race and a fight that not everybody wins (1 Corinthians 9:24, 1 Timothy 6:12).  Only Christ waits at the finish line and we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus at all times to win our crown of glory there (1 Corinthians 9:25).  Growing up in grace and running patiently all the way (2 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 12:1-2).

Holding fast to Christ inside us prevents a falling away from repentance, from which it is impossible for God to renew us to (Hebrews 6:4-6).  It makes us able to retain the faithful Word we have been taught.  In turn, it helps us present sound doctrine to exhort and convince the gainsayers (2 Timothy 1:13, Titus 1:9).

This is so we can prove all things and hold fast to all that’s good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  It is so we don’t backslide by holding firm to the deceit of our heart (Jeremiah 8:5).  One cannot expect victory running every way but straight in any race   Moving steadily ahead in one direction wins, but fast and foolish loses.

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– To whom he (Paul) expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus – both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning ’til evening. – Acts 28:23

– Desiring to be teachers of the law – understanding neither what they say, nor the things which they affirm. – 1 Timothy 1:7

It is never wrong for any Christian to share single passages or verses from Scripture with those who are lost.  However, doing so in any random fashion does not really help them understand the message of the Cross, any better than if they’d read the same alone. Regular sharing like this is not connecting the dots.  It marks one who isn’t learning how to compare spiritual things with spiritual from God (1 Corinthians 2:13).

It makes it hard for any believer like this to expound Scripture to the lost, and who don’t understand the gospel yet.  To them, it is foolishness and hidden because they are currently perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18, 2 Corinthians 4:3).  Expounding presents and explains something systematically and in detail.  It should always leave anyone with a better concept of what is being expounded, and less confused about it.

Expounding is also more convincing.  In regards to God’s Word, it is more capable of causing someone to believe He is true and real, and that Jesus Christ is the only way to stay on heaven’s narrow path (John 14:6, Matthew 7:14).  Expounding is also far more persuasive if we don’t require a Bible in our hands when people ask us questions about it; and we have to flip back and forth between pages to find answers.

Saying things like “Well, I thought that verse was in Jeremiah, but maybe it’s Jude.”  Followed by a long pause as we search unsuccessfully and remark, “I could have sworn it was in here somewhere.  I just can’t find it now.”  How compelling would any of these comments sound to a lost soul?  Wouldn’t it appear we did not understand what we are saying – unable to affirm our words with God’s (second lead verse)?

Remember, if we are Christians, we have been born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  We have God’s Word dwelling within us at all times through the power of the Holy Ghost.  We have Scripture inside our soul wherever we may go.  So we do not go around saying things as, “I wish I could answer, but I don’t have my Bible now” – if anyone asks us questions about it.  We can still expound quickly, confidently, and correctly.

Our Father does not automatically give us an ability to expound.  We can’t expect or anticipate it to develop without participation on our part, and it certainly does not happen overnight.  We are to study Scripture on a steady basis to show ourselves approved to God – not other Christians.  This is so we can rightly divide His word of truth assuredly.  Without shame, delay, or doubt as to what we are saying (2 Timothy 2:15).

This is not all.  We have to rehearse what we are learning from God on a regular basis as He guides us into all truth (John 16:13, 1 John 2:27), teaching us freely how to compare spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).  This is so we can readily and practically apply the Word to any worldly situation. Sitting in church listening to Scripture, but doing little else with it, does not teach expounding (James 1:22).

There is a worldwide audience today of lost and unbelieving souls in a state of spiritual famine and starvation.  Such people are not famished by lack of worldly water or bread – but out of a longing hunger for hearing the Word (Amos 8:11).  Rehearsing to expound helps us prepare to feed anyone like this properly at any moment.  Providing malnourished souls with suitable spiritual food; if only for a while.

Expounding also helps connect what the lost can relate to, or understand in their world, to truths in God’s Word – a lamp unto our feet as Christians.  It should brighten their path at least a little while with the Bible (Psalm 119:105).  Learning how to expound keeps us ready to answer anyone in this manner with grace and relevance (Colossians 4:6).  It is so they don’t stumble as much and stay so distant from God.

For example, if we should find ourselves talking to athletes, we could expound to them how faith is similar to running a long race.  Moving ahead at a steady and patient pace – perhaps as in a marathon. And, how only person can win a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).  We could then add in talk about a need for spiritual discipline and commitment, just as one would require physically in the world if they desired victory.

When we rehearse to expound, it’s so we can take a person from point A to point B in Scripture.  Without skipping or forgetting steps along the way – or losing our audience somewhere in the middle.  The book of Acts gives us a great example of this.  Some Jewish believers were in strong contention with Peter about the Gentiles.  People they considered unclean human beings; and not worthy of God’s grace (Acts 11:1-3).

However, Peter had already rehearsed what he was going to say to them, in set order from the beginning (Acts 11:4); just in case a meeting like this ever took place.  As Peter knew how they felt about the Gentiles – a complete and conclusive response had to be ready at moment’s notice.  By expounding everything as to why Gentiles were just as worthy; the Jews held their peace at the end in agreement (Acts 11:5-18).

Because Peter prepared ahead of time, he was able to expound convincingly, and not come across sounding holier-than-thou to the Jews – because he knew he wasn’t (Romans 3:23).  Nor, did it appear to them Peter was showing off his Scriptural knowledge; but sharing little or nothing pertaining to the situation at hand.  We always want to help draw the lost closer to the Cross, not drive them further away from it.

Practice makes perfect just as much in the Word as it does in the world.  It involves rehearsing privately as Peter did for later use in public.  Musicians and actors don’t walk out on stage without rehearsing first, or they are bound to forget and skip some notes or lines. Likewise, we cannot expound the Word if we don’t learn how to rehearse.  It will just sound like we are randomly tossing out verses without rhyme or reason.

As we mature spiritually and learn the discipline to rehearse, we can help other believers also learn to expound more credibly.  There was a Jewish man in Acts named Apollos.  He was an eloquent speaker who was mighty in Scriptures and fervent in the spirit. Instructed in the Lord’s ways and teaching accurately in this manner.  However, his knowledge was limited, knowing only of John’s baptism (Acts 18:24-25).

When he began speaking boldly in the synagogues, an early missionary couple of the Christian church heard him.  Their names were Aquila and Priscilla, who had already lived, worked, and traveled with the apostle Paul (Acts 18:2-3, 18).  The two took Apollos aside and began expounding unto him the way of God more perfectly.  It was so he could go publicly convince other Jews that Jesus was Christ (Acts 18:26-28).

Likewise, we should be expounding Scripture more perfectly with each passing year.  We are continually being transformed (Romans 12:2) and perfected by God’s truth, so it becomes a natural progression.  So our expounding sounds more and more complete and connected – and less piecemeal.  Resounding in the souls of others as immutable truths flowing forth from the living water of God’s Word in ours (John 7:38).

If we don’t learn to expound more perfectly, we will likely sound purposeful.  However, we’re not trying to add members to our church – only God can do this (Acts 2:47).  Sadly, some expound as an attempt to do so; or as a way to sell Christian merchandise (2 Thessalonians 3:8, 2 Peter 2:3).  Although we can persuade others about God with our expounding, we can’t do so to make them be a Christian (Acts 26:28).

However, we can never really learn or expect to expound Scripture without spiritual discipline.  It commands steadfast commitment and devotion to God – for this defines belief in Him.  It takes studying and rehearsing in private, so we always know what to expound with any type of public audience.  It takes exercising our spirit into godliness (1 Timothy 4:7), so we’re not labeled as hypocrites (1 Corinthians 9:14).

Only our Father is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4), so our expounding will never be 100 percent flawless. Still, we should eventually get to a point through repeated rehearsing and practicing, where it never sounds to other people as if we’re merely expounding Scripture by reading from a prepared script or crib notes.  Or, as if we’re just ad-libbing without prior preparation.  “Winging it” isn’t the way to expound.

What we should learn is to be like Paul, and be able to sit down and expound Scripture to any number of people from morning until night – without having a Bible in sight.  Talking about any topic from God’s Word in systematic detail as Paul did with the Jews in the lead verse.  Starting from a specific point and leading to a definitive conclusion.  Leaving those who hear to decide if they believe or not (Acts 28:23-24).

In conclusion, expounding explains in great detail, in a set order.  It clears up truths from God’s Word with the lost, or even new believers who still wrestle with Scripture (2 Peter 3:16).  People who often see the Bible as being contradictory or confusing.  In turn, expounding births wholesome words becoming sound doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3-4, Titus 2:1).  It’s why God had soldiers pound nails into the body of His Son.

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And Jesus said to him, “No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62

– Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul – seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil, and go.” – 1 Samuel 16:1

The Sower” is a painting by van Gogh.  It shows a stark country setting.  A simple farmhouse sits far off in the background.  The foreground shows a young man walking across a dirt field with a seed bag slung over his shoulder – the sun blazing above.  His gaze is fixed ahead as he scatters seeds behind – unaware a few birds have gathered there; already eating some of them.  It is a good illustration of the lead verse.

A bad illustration is sitting in the same Sunday seats week after week, year after year.  Doing so develops a complacent Christian life not in accordance with God’s Word.  The more we feel at home here in our body – including that of a church – the more we’re absent from the Lord.  We don’t want to be found naked at the end because we clothed ourselves in the comfort of any physical church (2 Corinthians 5:1-6).

This is not God’s idea of spiritual farming.  Failing to move when God commands is stubbornness.  When He told Noah to build the ark – Noah moved with fear (Hebrews 11:7).  He didn’t tell God it wasn’t a good time.  Stubbornness is a sin (1 Samuel 15:23).  It is a refusal to move in accordance with the Word, because one is still conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2). It is remaining in a state of disobedient unbelief.

We don’t see people chosen by God to follow Him (John 15:16) like Moses, David, and Paul attending weekly Sunday church services or mid-week Bible studies.  Then, wandering about in the world outside of those times, wondering what God wanted them to do.  Jesus did not hang on a Cross for us to hang around in an idle haze, confused at any time about what God wants us to do (1 Corinthians 14:33).

There are many reasons why we have to be on the move much of the time.  One reason is God always has something for us to do – as long as He is the One leading us by the Spirit (Romans 8:1).  We cannot make things up in our minds as some accused Moses of doing (Numbers 16:28).  God warns us of having false dreams or lying divinations; misled by them – or misleading others (Jeremiah 23:32, Ezekiel 13:6-7).

While Samuel mourned over God’s rejection of Saul as Israel’s king – Samuel was going to be of no use to Him sitting in the same place too long (second lead verse).  There was a new king to go find and anoint. Still, Samuel didn’t wander off without a clue, hoping he would happen upon the right person.  God had set directions and instructions for Samuel, as is always the case with us (1 Samuel 16:1-13, Proverbs 5:23).

Another reason we have to keep moving is because we are all being pursued by the devil.  Satan is a spiritual predator who does not sleep.  He always knows where we are and who we are (Job 1:6-11, Acts 19:15) – roaring about like a lion seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8-9).  It’s easier for physical predators to attack and kill sick, weak, or stationary targets.  It’s easier for Satan to do the same.

God designed our bodies – physical and spiritual – to move.  A third reason for both to be in movement is it promotes health and healing.  As Christians, we are not our own anymore.  We have been bought with a price, and we are to glorify God in our body and our spirit; which are His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Lack of use with either leads to atrophy; a gradual decline in vigor or effectiveness due to underuse or neglect.

Any person in such a state often wants or requires others to do things for them physically or spiritually. In the book of John, a man with an infirmity (physical weakness) had sat by the pool at Bethesda – for 38 years.  Many other impotent people were also there. An angel would enter the pool in a certain season and stir it up.  After this troubling of the waters, the first person in after would be made whole (John 5:2-5).

When Jesus saw this man – He knew the man had been infirm a long time.  Christ asked, “Do you want to be made well?”  The man replied, “Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is troubled. But, while I am coming, another steps down before me.”  Jesus said, “Rise, take your bed and walk.”  The man did and was immediately healed (John 5:6-8). Christ never touched him.  Jesus simply said “Move.”

Movement prevents us from having too much idle time on our hands.  Idle time leads to idle words we will all give account of on judgement day (Matthew 12:36).  It also creates idol walks and talks, and worldly conversations we are not to have (Exodus 23:13, 2 Corinthians 1:12).  In addition to other sins like pride, an abundance of idleness led to God’s fiery destruction of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49, Genesis 19:24).

Movement does not mean staying busy all the time. When the Pharaoh oppressed Israel, he wanted them to be so busy making bricks, they wouldn’t have time to make sacrifices for God.  This is too busy (Exodus 5:6-8).  We have to stop from time to time to clearly hear God’s still, small voice – to get new instructions as Elijah did (1 Kings 19:11-15).  However, once we do – we move with fear and without delay like Noah.

Staying in one place too long leads to familiarity. Familiarity tends to breed contemptuous, complacent, careless, and/or lukewarm spirits.  Such ungodly attributes arise from getting too accustomed to something or someone.  Relaxed Christians are the end result (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).  Even in their churches where Satan could be sitting, or preaching from the pulpit (Revelation 2:13, Ephesians 6:12).

If we move ahead and don’t look back in accordance with God’s Word (lead verse), in humble obedience to His commands unto death (Philippians 2:8) – we’re doing His will.  God’s charge in Matthew 24:14 can’t be fulfilled any other way.  If we sit still in one place too long, the sin of stubbornness is sure to stagnate our spiritual growth.  This gives place to Satan and plenty of room to devour us (Ephesians 4:27).

Much like the style of van Gogh’s “The Sower” – we’re to sling a spiritual seed bag over our shoulder and set out across the farmlands of faith.  Sowing the Word of God as our seed as He leads us by the Spirit (Mark 4:14, Luke 8:11).  Not looking back over our shoulder to see if they are landing on stony ground – or if the devil is there to take them away, or we’re not fit for God’s kingdom of heaven (Mark 4:15-16, lead verse).

This keeps us from sowing the same spiritual fields over and over.  When farmers of God’s physical fields do this year after year, the dirt becomes stressed and unfruitful.  The same goes for the spiritual soil of our hearts.  Instead, we scatter a handful of seeds on the ground and move on ahead.  God will send another person along to water it – but He alone will be the One to provide the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Only God decides what any physical or spiritual seed will ever become, giving each one its own body as it pleases Him (1 Corinthians 15:37-38).  We can’t grow seeds planted in human hearts into producing spiritual fruits God commands them to become in ourselves or any other person (Galatians 5:22-23).  If we try to, we only defile His crop (Deuteronomy 22:9).  This doesn’t move anyone closer to heaven, does it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– Only by pride cometh contention; but with the well advised is wisdom. – Proverbs 13:10

– Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! – Isaiah 45:9

The simplest definition of “contention” means being opposed to something or someone.  Carried out to extremes, it develops a zeal to emerge as the winner in arguments or debates with anybody – including with God.  Contentment usually only comes with victories – while losses often generate contempt.

Any contention in life develops an existence of strife, discord, or disagreement with any number of people. It does the same with our Father above.  Contentious opposition to His ways can birth enmity or bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), leading to discontent lives of always questioning Him in an air of conflict and quarreling.

It’s a sign of having a carnal mind still conformed to the world; not renewed and transformed by His truth yet (Romans 8:7, 12:2).  It creates spiritual stress, struggles, or stagnation – and a burdensome, heavy yoke (Matthew 11:30).  It often creates a confusion God is never the author of (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Contention is a state of dissention with heaven.  It keeps hearts far from it – even though lips may speak many feigned words to the contrary (Mark 7:6).  It’s not growing in God’s grace, but it gives place to the devil – and space for his many devices of devouring (2 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 4:27, 2 Corinthians 2:11).

It is sin – for only by pride does it arise (lead verse). It is being at odds with God – at any time, for any reason.  It is disobedient complaining coming from a lack of faith and trust – and this is displeasing to Him (Numbers 11:1, Philippians 2:14, Hebrews 11:6).  It is walking contrary to His ways (Leviticus 26:27-28).

To contend, or being in any contention with God is ungodly.  Some synonyms for both words reflect this, such as conflict and friction.  It’s hard to walk with anyone in such disharmony (Amos 3:3).  People can only disagree with others for so long, before they say “so long.”  The same goes with God (Hebrews 3:12).

Contention implies God does not know what He is doing.  It suggests He is unfair (Ezekiel 33:20), lying (Hebrews 6:18), or wrongly judging because violence, spoiling, and strife abound (Habakkuk 1:3-4).  Those contentious with God tend to perceive their goodness or innocence (Proverbs 20:6, Jeremiah 2:35).

However, our Father is always right – His ways are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4).  Contention with Him says He is not – and makes mistakes.  If we say we’re Christians, then we have been born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  We’ve been reconciled back to God into one body by the Cross of Christ (Ephesians 2:16).

Reconciliation means being brought into agreement and alignment with something or someone.  If we are Christians, then it is God.  Contention prohibits any concurrence with Him.  If we claim belief, then we always agree with God.  If we don’t, we are devoid of the truth, despite any claims to the contrary.

Our Father’s commandments are not meant to be grievous, but to grow us up into mature Christians (1 John 5:3).  Contentions against Him grieve the Holy Spirit – and we’re warned not to do this (Ephesians 4:30).  When we do, it upsets and saddens God.  It shows we haven’t learned Christ (Ephesians 4:20-32).

Remember, our Father causes and creates all things in life – light and dark, good and evil (Isaiah 45:7). However, He will never grieve or afflict us willingly without reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  Griping or grumbling about troubles or trials in life is not the way to grow spiritually and in grace (2 Peter 3:18).

We must look within at sin still not confessed and corrected as the source of any difficulty with Him.  Sin angers God, especially when committed by Christians who cannot be ignorant about His command to repent (Acts 17:30).  Otherwise, complaining and contention with Him are bound to begin (Lamentations 3:39).

If contentious arguing arises against God, it is being lifted up in the same arrogant pride that got Satan cast out from heaven (1 Samuel 2:3, Proverbs 16:18, Luke 10:18).  Christian novices are prone to prideful contention – and this puts them in danger of falling into the condemnation of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6).

New believers are unlearned and unstable.  They still wrestle with Scripture and require a lot of spiritual milk.  The Bible is hard to understand (1 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 3:16).  It includes those who should be teachers by now; but who have to keep being retaught the first principles of God’s oracles (Hebrews 5:12).

Contention can also be fostered by failing to speak or preach wholesome words becoming sound doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3-4, Titus 2:1).  Instead, it is putting a personal “spin” on Scripture.  With catchy quotes or phrases sounding very spiritual and godly, but being unable to affirm them with His Word (1 Timothy 1:7)

However, this is swerving from the truth (1 Timothy 1:6), and being removed to another gospel (Galatians 1:6).  This is how people get deceived by vain words (Ephesians 5:6).  Contention has likely led to rewrites of Scripture into many new versions so they sound more agreeable to man (Revelation 22:18-19).

Whatever the cause, contention is never a good state to be in very long.  Satan roars around like a starving lion, waiting to lead us away in err (1 Peter 5:8-9, James 1:16, 2 Peter 3:17).  The devil is our 24/7 accuser (Revelation 12:10).  Stirring up contention with God is a deadly device he uses to devour souls.

This doesn’t mean we will never be contentious with others – even with believers.  We were all raised in the world first, and have various viewpoints, theories, and opinions about life we may still be entangled in (2 Timothy 2:4).  Jesus has to untangle these so we stop minding earthly matters (Philippians 3:19).

These can lead to sometimes heated disagreements with each other.  In the book of Acts, contention separated two brothers in Jesus.  What happened would be similar to a group of church elders today unable to agree on who to send on a mission trip. However, why it happened merits some examination.

Paul and Barnabas were at an impasse about whether to take John Mark – the cousin of Barnabas – as a third companion to go visit brothers in cities they had previously preached in.  They wanted to see how these brothers were faring.  The contention was so sharp, they went separate ways (Acts 15:36-39).

Scripture reveals they never met face to face again. Still, Paul later makes favorable mention of Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6), and expresses a desire for John Mark to join him in ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).  Even though Barnabas and Paul disagreed, they did not end up making a mountain out of a molehill.

Also, keep in mind their dissension did not involve Scriptural content or doctrinal issues.  They did not engage in profane or vain babblings about the Bible (1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:16).  The split between the two men involved a personal dispute based upon a judgement call on who to take with them.

To their credit, neither Paul or Barnabas permitted the contention to sideline them from personal efforts in spreading God’s Word.  Yes, it was prideful and partial (1 Timothy 5:21).  However, they didn’t allow their inability to arrive at a decision to get them angry enough to sin more against God (Ephesians 4:26).

There will always be times when brothers and sisters in Christ will not see eye-to-eye in matters of opinion. However, the important thing is how we respond.  Do we mope, sulk, and stew because somebody didn’t agree with our point of view – or do we stay focused on doing God’s will, regardless of disagreements?

Paul and Barnabas pushed forward, putting their hand to the plow (Luke 9:62).  As a result, more work was done for God because of how they handled their rift. They didn’t permit it to spoil them spiritually.  They didn’t let it fester and end up getting the best of them in ignorance of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).

There’ll be several situations throughout life leading to potential strife, dissention, or disagreement.  It’s even understandable between Christians, depending on the progress of their spiritual growth.  We still have to live in the world, but we have to watch with caution what we’re filling our hearts with (Luke 6:45).

Even with the Spirit inside us, our flesh lusts against it, and vice versa.  We don’t always say or do things we want to or should (Romans 7:18-19, Galatians 5:17).  However, contention is strife, and strife leads to evil works (James 3:16).  Individually, or in the churches where it has no place (1 Corinthians 11:16).

God tells us to take heed because we can easily be consumed if we continue biting and devouring each other in any contention (Galatians 5:15).  This shows a total lack of devotion to God’s ways and discipline in our walk with Him.  There’s no rest in life (Proverbs 29:9).  Contention makes people tense and on edge.

This is why we are well-advised to learn godly wisdom (lead verse).  It is letting God tame our unruly and evil tongues by His truth (James 3:8) – learning like David how to ask Him to set a guard over our lips (Psalm 141:3).  So our words are few and we refrain from rash talk (Ecclesiastes 5:2, Proverbs 10:19).

Strife in life leads to a lot of wrong, unrighteous, and ungodly thinking (Philippians 4:8).  Precious time is wasted and mental energy is spent dreaming up ways trying to prove a point on any topic, even Scripture, to those we disagree with.  Giving them a piece of our mind can’t lead to peace of mind (Philippians 4:9).

No thought can be hid from our Father (Job 42:2) – God knows them all (Ezekiel 11:5).  Even if we may think our contention is hidden to the masses in our mind, it is immediately manifest before the Almighty (Hebrews 4:12-13).  We can fool others with feigned and fake faith, but not God (Jeremiah 3:10).

We can also go out and speak the most convicting words about God – then come back home and rail accusations against Him behind closed doors about something we think He is doing wrong.  However God knows our abode; when we come and go.  If we rage against Him like this, it can’t be hid (2 Kings 19:27).

Many things increase vanity in this life and contention with God is one (Ecclesiastes 6:10-11).  It is counter-productive to bringing forth spiritual fruit meet with our commandment to repent of sins (Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30, Galatians 5:22-23).  Who are we to contend with God and command Him (Job 40:2)?

Contention with God shows Him we desire to establish our own righteousness and then declare it as such – just as the Israelites did.  However, it’s not submitting to His righteousness (Romans 10:3).  Instead, it is subversive and condemns Him.  If we do, we disannul His judgment, just so we can be righteous (Job 40:8).

Contention is everything but peace.  It is sin and it is ungodly.  We are to follow peace with all men, and holiness or we won’t see God (Hebrews 12:14).  If we should stay ungodly by blaming Him for our problems in prideful contention, and fail to repent of our ways, we will not stand in the judgement (Psalm 1:5).

Therefore, God tells us to avoid foolish questions, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law. They are unprofitable, and vain (Titus 3:9).  Starting strife is like opening floodgates to release dammed up water.  So we don’t meddle with contention, we’re to walk away from it, before it begins (Proverbs 17:14).

However, there is one thing we all have to contend for – and earnestly, meaning intently and seriously.  It is the faith once delivered to the saints of yore (Jude 1:3).  It is the kind Jesus wonders about; if it will be found upon returning (Luke 18:8).  It means we have to be in contention with the devil (Proverbs 28:4).

It means we have to hold fast.  It is keeping our souls from straying by having them firmly secured by the anchor of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:19).  This is so we hold fast to instructions from God (Proverbs 4:13), the profession of our faith without wavering (Hebrews 10:23), and all that is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

It is so we can hold fast to the form of sound words (2 Timothy 1:13).  So we hold fast and repent unto salvation as commanded – or perish (Revelation 3:3, Acts 17:30, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Luke 13:3,5).  If we don’t it will be easy to backslide into contentious ways – and hold fast to deceit (Jeremiah 8:5-6).

Prideful deceit is the state of our heart from the start of life (Jeremiah 17:9, Obadiah 1:3, 1 John 2:16).  If we should keep slipping (Hebrews 2:1) back to it as believers, we swerve from a good conscience, to contention again with God (1 Timothy 1:5-6).  It’s how we veer off the straight path (Matthew 7:14).

Straying in any contention too long is staying in uncorrected sin.  It’s failing to consider the eternal consequences of disobedience (2 Thessalonians 1:8). If we remain in contention too long, we will have no excuse if God says to us when we meet Him, “Depart from Me, for I never knew you (Matthew 7:23).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And through covetousness shall they with feigned words, make merchandise of you.  Whose judgement now of a long time lingers not – and their damnation does not slumber. – 2 Peter 2:3

– And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her – for no man buys their merchandise anymore. – Revelation 18:11

There is never anything new under the sun to God (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).  Back in the days of Isaiah, nobody judged the fatherless or took care of widows, but everyone loved gifts and followed after rewards (Isaiah 1:23).  There were those during the days of Job who saw no personal profit by serving God.  Also, what was the point of praying if they could not get earthly presents in return (Job 21:15, James 4:3)?

Job himself saw his righteousness as more than God’s – at least in Elihu’s eyes – because Job said, “What profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sins (Job 35:1-3)?”  There were men during Malachi’s time with a similar mentality – who saw no profit by keeping God’s ordinances and walking mournfully before Him (Malachi 3:14).  Samuel’s sons turned to filthy lucre as soon as he appointed them judges (1 Samuel 8:3).

In Jeremiah, Judah had become saturated in idolatry and immorality.  Deceived to the point they couldn’t conceive of the notion they had turned their temples into dens of robbers – even though God clearly saw it all (Jeremiah 7:11, Hebrews 4:13).  Basically, many in Old Testament days saw no purpose in worshipping God and walking in accordance with His way, unless there was something “in it” for them (Luke 17:7-10).

Some type of tangible earthly profit or gain to touch or see – otherwise what was the point of serving God? Sound familiar?  Doesn’t it sound like a lot of worldly lust and covetousness – completely void of God’s love despite any lip service claims to the contrary (Ezekiel 33:31, Mark 7:6)?  It was much more of the same in the New Testament (lead verse, Titus 1:11) – and it is certainly no different in far too many places today.

Much of the Christian landscape in the modern world appears to have turned into one giant shopping mall. Multitudes of merchandise to mull over, and plenty of purchases to ponder are available for the masses to contemplate on a daily basis – and even the foyers of some Sunday sanctuaries are not safe.  It is ungodly. It is in alignment with the worldly and Babylonian system of buying and selling as a steady way of life.

Believers entangled in such a setup can often feel like they have to open their pocketbooks and wallets on a regular basis to keep buying the latest and greatest CD’s by Christian artists – to keep their spirits lifted. Instead of speaking to themselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – singing and making melody in their heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).  The former always has a price tag – the latter is always free.

Christians can also get caught up in paying money to hear those people who are maybe being touted as the hottest speakers on the Christian preaching/teaching circuit.  Perhaps promising to reveal revolutionary and new ways for a winning Christian walk; instead of the believer being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:1).  This is so God can freely teach them His way without any lie; without them having to pay any price (1 John 2:27).

If we are born-again, then we have been bought with a precious price – the blood of Christ.  We have been reconciled back to God through the Cross – meaning we are now completely in agreement and alignment with His ways (Ephesians 2:13-16).  It is no longer the Babylonian way found throughout the Bible – but with His found in the same book.  The former is for earthly gain and profit; the latter is for eternal.

Therefore, Christians are to be chargeable to no man – lest others charge that we are preaching, teaching, writing, singing, etc. about God – merely for worldly profit (2 Corinthians 11:9, 1 Thessalonians 2:9).  We are to buy His truth from above in our soul, and not sell it with a price tag attached below.  This includes the marketing of any godly wisdom, instruction, or understanding we have acquired (Proverbs 23:23).

We are to be content with such things as we have at all times – including our wages (Hebrews 13:5, Luke 3:14).  If we spend any of our brief existence here on this earth (James 4:14) attempting to exact any more than God has already appointed to us (Luke 3:13), we have uncorrected greed/gain issues to confess.  Left unaddressed, we trouble our house, God’s, and all of His flock (Proverbs 15:27, Isaiah 56:10-11).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and it is profitable for doctrine … not for the sound of dollars and profit (2 Timothy 3:16).  However, who’s going to preach, write, teach, or sing against such things, if they’re involved in the Babylonian system of selling God for gain?  If so, they have not departed from such iniquity, nor have they been sanctified – purged from such dishonor to His name (2 Timothy 2:19-21).

To be meet for our Master’s use and prepared unto His every good work – all that He requires of us is a humble and obedient heart just like Jesus had until death (Philippians 2:8, 2 Timothy 2:21).  Our Father will then thoroughly furnish everything we require to do His work along the way, including finances (2 Timothy 3:17).  We are to always be content with food to eat and clothes to wear (1 Timothy 6:8).

The only time Christ was recorded as getting angry was when he went into the temple of God and cast out those who bought and sold within (Luke 19:45). Overthrowing the tables of the money changers, and upsetting the seats of the dove sellers (Mark 11:15). These people had turned God’s house of prayer into a house of profit – a deceitful den of greedy thieves and grievous wolves (Matthew 21:13, Acts 20:29).

There is an old Latin saying of “caveat emptor” – or “let the buyer beware” in English.  It means that the purchaser of any product assumes the risk it may fail to meet expectations or have defects.  Christians who fall victim to the Babylonian way of merchandising the gospel – are not being aware of evil and disobedient workers walking with God to attain worldly wealth for themselves (Romans 10:21, Philippians 3:2).

Believers deceived by Satan’s devices succumb to minds thinking spiritual growth, unwavering faith, and steadfast belief can only be obtained and maintained by spending money and emptying pockets.  It does not create an equality among all (Ecclesiastes 5:9, 2 Corinthians 8:13-14).  It is following the wide road of commerce to destruction – not Christ’s narrow path to heaven (second lead verse, Matthew 7:13-14).

For the sellers it is a different story … for they have run greedily after the err of Balaam for reward, and in the gainsaying way of Core (James 1:16, Jude 1:11, Numbers 16:24-40).  Making money off of God’s free gospel is the bane of any relationship with Christ.  If the sellers do not soon remove themselves from the Babylonian way, their damnation might not slumber or linger too much longer (lead verse).

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. – 2 Peter 2:20

– “Wherefore, come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 6:17

Most of us have probably experienced the frequent frustration of attempting to untangle Christmas lights. It can be an extremely tedious and time-consuming process.  Even though we finally strung them out and hung them on our tree last year, and all the wires and lights seemed to be straightened out then, they have since managed to sit in some storage place and twist themselves into a tangled pile again for this year.

The word tangle means to twist into a confused mess, physically or spiritually.  Entanglement can start at any point in this process.  It means to not only get caught up in the snarled mess it makes, but finding it very difficult and sometimes very painful to escape. However, it’s far easier to untangle Christmas tree lights each year – than to ever finally separate and escape from years and years of life’s entanglements.

Christ did not hang upon the Cross for us to live like this.  However, only God can make straight again the crooked course He first created for us to travel upon this earth (Ecclesiastes 7:13).  This means we must walk His narrow and untangled path of truth all the way to heaven; and few find it.  The broad road to destruction’s door is paved with plenty of Satan’s likeable lies to get tangled up in (Matthew 7:13-14).

There is never anything new to God (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).  The world system today is no different from the Babylonian one existing all throughout the Bible.  It is a murky world of merchandise and purchase in where people love gifts and follow after rewards (Revelation 18:2,11, Isaiah 1:23).  A life where one always has to pay some sort of price to maintain a continued sense of satisfaction or gratification (Proverbs 27:20).

Either through spending money, sins of the flesh – or sometimes a mixture of both.  It is a steadily flowing stream of alluring pleasures (James 5:5), loveable lies, and subtly seductive temptations – all having a physical, emotional, or spiritual price tag attached. We know there are those who will go whoring after prostitutes or gigolos, but it is harder to admit when we go whoring after the way of Babylon (Hosea 9:1).

The world tells us the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  We just have to keep finding out where the fence is first – then figure out what is so much better beyond it for us to leave our side.  Still, some will always need to see, hear, or have some new thing (Acts 17:21) – even in Christianity.  Some revolutionary or exciting product, self–help program, or investment program to buy or try (2 Peter 2:3)

This all creates a twisting and turning road of near constant confusion – as the world presents one angle, then a different one to keep people deeply entangled and entrenched in its ways.  The longer this path of merchandise and purchase is pursued and followed, the more frustrating and time-consuming it can be to untangle from.  As always, the prince of this world is the pitchman holding the pitchfork (John 14:30).

As John Ritenbaugh writes, “The result is an unhappy world held hostage by the Babylonian system having its roots in human nature.  Because of this, it feeds right into inner desires for frequent changes and a variety of adventures as the answers to fulfillment in life.  It promotes contentment in the possession of material things (Luke 12:15), having much fun and excitement, and a variety of religious experiences.”

Ritenbaugh continues: “Its major fruits are easily seen in both the world and church these days as confusion of purpose, competition, disharmony, and disunity abound all around (1 Corinthians 14:33, 2 Corinthians 10:12, Ephesians 4:3).  Far too many Christians are still clearly tangled up in the world’s web – separating themselves from each other, from the Spirit, and love of God by doing so (Jude 1:19).”

In conclusion, Ritenbaugh writes, “None of these factors gives a lasting sense of peace, fulfillment, or abundance according to God’s ways, because they’re not in harmony with His purposes.  They only produce short bursts of satisfaction.  Israel was often warned by God about such proclivity.  Still, they remained disastrously careless and curious – full of discontent, unsettled, and impatient ‘grass is greener’ yearnings.”

We are all in bondage to the world right from the womb (Galatians 4:3).  Caught up in its pollutions of idolatry (Acts 15:20), blinded by the devil’s lights (2 Corinthians 4:4), and tangled in his labyrinth of lies. Born as corrupt beings of flesh and blood who cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven by staying this way (1 Corinthians 15:50).  Unless we are spiritually reborn before we die, worldly chains cannot be broken.

We can’t be born again of the Spirit until God knows our hearts and minds have finally had it – fed up with always to trying live in alignment and agreement with the world’s ways.  Tired of longing for, living for, and loving its things we can’t take with us (1 Timothy 6:7, 1 John 2:15).  Otherwise, God knows we will only be sorry about sin for a season; and we will not be ready to repent unto salvation (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).

When we are born again of the Spirit, it is a baptism of fire from above (Matthew 3:11).  It is an intense and complete purging of our hearts and minds from heaven, as God burns up all the worldly clutter within, untangling all the lines of Satan’s lies.  It’s an instant and clean escape from the world – but it is far from being permanent.  We still have to live in this world, surrounded by a daily smorgasbord of temptations.

The prince of this world (John 14:30) is going to do all in his power to prevent us from getting to a place he can never return to again – heaven.  Once salvation’s seed is sown with the Spirit – Satan gets busy.  When the Pharaoh oppressed Israel, he wanted to suppress their thoughts towards God by getting them so busy in the steady production of bricks, they wouldn’t have any time to do anything for Him (Exodus 5:7-9).

Satan operates in much the same way.  Wanting us to get so caught up barging through busy days – trying to “do it all” – we barely have time to breathe; much less keep God in all of our thoughts.  This is the same type of prideful countenance as Satan’s (Psalm 10:4). This is how we can easily fall into condemnation with our Father (James 3:1), and how we can embark on a path to destruction (Ecclesiastes 7:16).

Although we become rooted and grounded in God’s love upon being born again, so spiritual fruits meet for repentance can be produced (Ephesians 3:16-17, Matthew 3:8, Galatians 5:22-23), worldly weeds can quickly creep back in.  Without zealously repenting of our sins daily, so God can continually regenerate our souls by the Holy Ghost, unrighteousness takes root once again (Revelation 3:19, Titus 3:5).

The daily cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and lusts of other things entering in – can choke the Word (Mark 4:19).  This is how ungodly worries and wants stress the spiritual soil of our hearts and minds (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 23:1).  Making them unfruitful – and producing wrong roots for unrighteous works of the same kind (Titus 3:8,14).  Satan is always ready to be their constant gardener (James 3:16).

There is more.  The liberty we have in Jesus frees us from the fear of death we are in bondage to all our lives (Hebrews 2:15).  It is not heavenly authority to do whatever we want in the world or Word until we actually do die.  Misuse of our liberty like this is an abuse of God’s grace (Romans 6:1-2,15).  It also trods Christ under our feet by counting the blood of the new covenant as unholy (Hebrews 10:29).

It means we are not standing or holding fast in our faith or liberty with Jesus – thereby allowing ourselves to become entangled with a yoke of bondage to this world again (Philippians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:8, Galatians 5:1).  How do we repent according to the Word, if we are still repeating the world (Revelation 3:3)?  The latter means we are using our liberty for ungodly things (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16).

If we keep minding earthly matters, and making our bellies and bank accounts god (Philippians 3:19), and continue getting ourselves entangled in the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4) – we’re still lost in the dark despite any light we think is inside us (Luke 11:35). We are still ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).  It will so be easy for him to snatch us in his snares, and take us captive at will (2 Timothy 2:26).

The devil can certainly keep us all snarled up in the world, and in our souls – and has his angels of light and righteousness to assist in hiding God’s light from us (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).  However, we also must be careful about being deceived by man’s vain words (Ephesians 5:6) – who through lusts of the flesh and much wantonness – allure those who have cleanly escaped – back into worldly bondage (2 Peter 3:18).

In summation, if we allow Satan to keep us tangled up in the world by staying ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), we are being disobedient to God. We are not repenting as commanded of ways keeping us all wrapped up in the confused mess this world creates each day (Acts 17:30).  It would be better if we had not known the way of righteousness – than known it – and turned away (2 Peter 2:21-22).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. – 1 Corinthians 9:25

– For He is like a refining fire and a fuller’s soap.  And, He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver – that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. – Malachi 3:2-3

In order for it to perform as designed, steel has to first be treated with heat at various temperatures depending on what it is to be used for.  Flexible and bendable steel used in things like metal springs or hoses is exposed to hotter degrees.  This is a type of refining process called tempering.  It is so the steel in these instances of being treated with higher heat can withstand years and years of use and abuse.

Although the outer surface might get dinged up or dented quite a bit along the way, the steel won’t snap or break because of improper tempering.  It’s able to serve according to its intended purpose for a long time.  Another type of refining heat process burns away impurities called dross from precious metals such as silver and gold.  If not, they wouldn’t be as pretty to look at, nor have much value or worth.

Well, we are all valuable and worth more than gold to God.  It’s just we are all born with a lot of dross and untempered hearts.  This is why must be born again (John 3:5) at some point before we die, for there is no other way for our Father to refine us with His fire, except from within.  We have many worldly impurities for Him to purge – and frail, flawed, infirm flesh to temper and strengthen (Psalm 39:4, Romans 6:19).

We can’t do any of this with an external power we are never given by God to begin with (John 19:11, Acts 17:28).  However, if we have already received the Holy Ghost upon being born again, it was a baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11).  We should remember feeling it inside instantly when God shed His love abroad in our dark hearts back then, commanding His light to shine out from them (Romans 5:5, 2 Corinthians 4:6).

Since that time, we have had a spiritual blaze burning inside our body.  This is God’s refining fire.  We have to constantly keep it stirred up so that nothing of the world quenches it (2 Timothy 1:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:19).  Subsequently, if we humbly obey God unto death (Philippians 2:8), and abide with Him side-by-side until then, He will purge and burn up all roots and branches of unrighteousness (John 15:1-6).

Even still, we should never think it strange concerning any fiery trial God uses to try us (1 Peter 4:12).  They are to teach us suffering like Christ endured (1 Peter 4:13), to work patience (James 1:3), and purify our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9).  All trials are required by God (Ecclesiastes 3:15).  All of them must have an earthly and eternal purpose as He will never grieve or afflict us willingly (Lamentations 3:32-33).

Still, trials are never joyous (Hebrews 12:11).  Just as there can be heated ones in a human courtroom, the same kinds can be handed down from heaven.  Some can make us feel like we have been tossed into a fiery furnace of affliction for far too long at times (Isaiah 48:10).  However, raging against God with railing accusations of Him not being fair is not the way to cool things down (2 Kings 19:27, Ezekiel 33:20).

Accepting by faith our Father is trying to temper, refine, and purify our soul from the inside out, and acknowledging Him in all ways as we walk through the fire of trials (Proverbs 3:6), is a far better way to not get burned.  If we fully believe as those young Jewish men thrown into an actual furnace did, God will walk by our side through the flames, so we can emerge without even being singed (Daniel 3:10-27).

Tried by His holy refining fire, strengthened within and tempered by the power of His heavenly might (Ephesians 3:16-17), and souls purified with heat like precious silver and gold in His sight.  So we can stand fast and firm in our faith (1 Corinthians 16:13) – yet remain flexible and bendable enough to bear years of potential abuse and accusations from those who still resist or refuse the truth (2 Corinthians 11:4).

Unless we go back and follow worldly gods after each refinement.  We will know if we’re still minding earthly matters and setting affections on them (Philippians 3:19, Colossians 3:2).  Our conversation will follow (Exodus 23:13), with corrective consequences to consider.  God may have to turn up the temperature knob on His refinery of affliction (Daniel 3:19), so we learn lessons now and don’t get burned forever.

 

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