The Word became flesh and dwelt among us….

How to Find Rest. Matthew 11:25-30

“Busy” is a common response for everyone when you ask them how they are going.
“Tired” might be the response when you ask them how they are feeling.

Everyone is busy, all are looking for rest, and most of the busyness, stress and pressure we are under because we can’t rest is not only doing damage to our health and relationships, the most common cause of it all is rooted in our spiritual health and relationships.

“The antidote to over-busyness isn’t sloth and indifference, but rather rest, rhythm, death to pride, acceptance of our own finitude, and trust in God’s providence.” – Kevin DeYoung

This passage of scripture is a familiar one about the rest Jesus offers to all, and the pathway to that rest from our burdens leads us not just from bad priorities and hectic lifestyles when we apply it all correctly, but ultimately, it leads us to Jesus himself.

The Prayer of Jesus (v25-26)

Matthew 11 gives examples of how people respond to Jesus and his ministry, from John the Baptist to whole cities and towns.

Those who reject Jesus face terrible judgement, and the fact that Matthew has recorded this in v20-24 in the context of v25-30 those who accept him find rest, shows us that the focus of the passage is the need to believe in Jesus and what God has revealed about him in scripture.

Side by side here there are passages of warning and encouragement, judgement and compassion. It seems like an odd pairing in the narrative, but it’s intentional in it’s meaning for us. Sometimes those who claim to know the Messiah best are the furtherest from him.

Verses 25-26 deal with a beautiful prayer of Jesus that we don’t often mediate on.

We know the Lord’s Prayer from the Sermon on the Mount, and the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, but I have never done an in depth study of the prayer of Jesus in Matthew 11:25-26.

What would Jesus thank God for? We could probably list many things, but the one thing most likely to not be on our list is that Jesus would thank the Father for hiding things from wise people and revealing them to little children.

“The contrast between wise and intelligent and babes is not between the knowledgeable and the ignorant, the educated and the uneducated, the brilliant and the simpleminded. It is a contrast between those who think they can save themselves by their own human wisdom, resources, and achievement and those who know they cannot. It is a comparison between those who rely on themselves and those who rely on God.” – John MacArthur

It’s not philosophy or theology that will save you. Proper knowledge and doctrine are good and necessary, but what Jesus thanks God for is not those with degrees and opinions and reputations, but for those who are like little children.

The Father’s gracious will is that those who see Jesus and believe on him are like little children.

Little children do not need to comprehend economics to ask their parents for a drink of water or something to eat, they just ask. They don’t need to understand the science of sociology to play with their friends they just do it. They don’t need to do a course on hermeneutics to have a book read to them or to flick through it themselves, they just do it. They don’t need a doctorate in medicine to know when they are hurting and need help.

Little children simply trust, and Jesus says these are the ones that find rest, because they don’t try to figure it out for themselves or provide for all their own needs, they trust their Father, and believe in his grace. This is what Jesus thanks God for.

Is he thankful for me?

The Revelation of Jesus (v27)

That God reveals things to those who are like little children and fully rely on Jesus happens because he is gracious and generous, like a Good Father.

We know all of this because he revealed himself to us in Jesus, and that is what Jesus says in verse 27.

Both the Son and the Father have an exclusive knowledge of one another and the only way to fully know one is to know the other. You cannot know the Father without the Son, and you cannot know the Son unless the Father reveals him to you.

The good news is that we have the full revelation of Jesus because he came, lived, died and rose again. The bad news is, humanity defies and rejects the Father even to this day because they refuse to believe in the Son.

The revealing of Jesus to some and not to others seems arbitrary and a little unfair, but it would only seem that way if you have already forgotten what Jesus has just said – that God reveals his grace to little children who simply trust. Jesus is shown to anyone who hears the good news about him and receives it, turning to God in faith. Gods choosing of us is based on his grace and our faith alone.

The open invitation that follows in v28 also shows us that God’s grace goes far beyond the limits of our understanding and wisdom.

The Invitation of Jesus (v28-30)

Some of the most comforting words Jesus ever shared were these – on the availability of rest to those who are weary and burdened.

“Weary carries the idea of working to the point of utter exhaustion. This is an invitation to everyone who is exhausted from trying to find rest and please God using their own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who has despaired of achieving God’s standard of righteousness by their own efforts.” – John MacArthur

Where weary refers to the internal exhaustion by seeking truth and rest through human effort and wisdom, heavy laden suggests the external burdens caused by these futile efforts. Jesus spoke of this load of tradition and religion that was placed on people’s shoulders by the religious leaders of the day (Matthew 23:4). Peter in Acts 15:10 noted that the Judaisers were trying to place a yoke on Christians which no one has ever been able to bear.

The invitation of Jesus also includes an invitation to submission. The yoke he is offering is not one of work and servitude, but one of learning and direction. ‘Learn of me’, join to him, let him be where you find your identity, direction and meaning.


The contrast is clear. If you are labouring under a load you are not meant to bear, bring it to Jesus and learn from him and obey him instead. If others place pressure on you, weighing you down with expectations, take his light burden instead of their heavy one.

The only yoke we are meant to be lead by is Christ.
The only burden we are to have is for Christ.

If you feel weary and heavy-laden, there’s a chance you are not learning from him.

“In the end there will be no lasting joy or even well-being in the world’s way. The rules of the Pharisees never stopped burdening the Jews with endless regulations over every area of life. The so-called freedom of the libertine world of our time functions in the opposite direction, yet burdens even more terribly.” – Grant Osborne

The burden of works for self-righteous ends and the pursuit of personal pleasure without consequence both end in weariness and exhaustion. These are yokes with harsh masters. There is no end to either one but brokenness.

If you want to live for yourself, being ‘yoked’ to Jesus may not sound appealing. You want your freedom.

I preached this passage as part of my homiletics course 13 years ago and at the time, it is accurate to say I was not yoked to Jesus. I was unequally yoked, and being pulled in a direction away from Jesus, not towards him.

What you tie yourself to will lead you on a path. Being joined to your work, career, relationships, and pleasure will never fulfil you and will lead you on a path of busyness, stress, anxiety, and will leave always wanting more and wanting rest.

The yoke Jesus offers is a positive one. Not only is he gentle and humble as a master, his commandments are not burdensome.

He has no interest in further burdening those who are coming to him for healing and restoration from heavy loads(12:20).

This is not about servitude to a conquering king or forced submission to an overlord, this is Jesus offering his own personal humility and gentleness as a motivation. Yes we serve and obey him as Lord, not to earn rest, but because he has done the greatest work for you already.

So you can rest in his work while doing his work, instead of working to find rest yourself.

How do we put all of this into life? How do we find rest?

It means asking some questions.

What am I joined to? If it’s not Jesus, it’s bondage.
What am I busy with? Life is busy, but we can still have rest. If you are in a position where you cannot have rest, you are in the wrong position. Saying no is not a sin, neither is handing over some responsibilities to focus on your primary ones.
What burden am I carrying that doesn’t belong to me? We exhaust ourselves and others around us with things only Jesus can do.


There is freedom to be found in this life, but it not found in the deceptive freedom of autonomy or the burden of self-sufficiency. It can only be found when instead are yoked to Jesus in grace.

In believing in Jesus, we enter into the rest of God (Hebrews 4:3). There is a rest for the people of God, but only for those who have rested from their works (Hebrews 4:9-10).

The next few verses detail how Jesus declared himself to be Lord of the Sabbath (12:8). It didn’t mean he didn’t do any work, but that his work was the will of the Father and that he could rest in the Father’s will.

Our lives will always have busy seasons, but we can always find rest.

The presence of the parent is enough for a child to find peace at times. It should be the same for us, to still do what we have to do, but rest in his presence that is always with us, and the greatest work that has been done for us.





“When Good News Came” Luke 2:1-20

What does Christmas mean to you?

For so many, the meaning of Christmas has been hidden away behind marketing spin, materialism, even political correctness.

For some it is family, friends, fellowship, reunion, love and intimacy.

For Christians it is a true reason for joy, reflection, thankfulness, and worship.

It’s true meaning is found whenever we stop to meditate on what actually happened.

1 – The Historical Reality v 1-5

The majority of scholars, both secular and Christian, regard the birth of Jesus as a proven historical fact.

There are many proven sources outside of scripture that back this claim up, and it would be extremely strange to discount them based on prejudice.

Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Josephus all non-Christian sources from the first century, confirm the reality that Jesus really was born and lived.

Luke, in writing his account of the life of Jesus to Theophilus, researched everything thoroughly so all who read it could be certain it was true (1:3-4). One of the ways he did this was by grounding his account in history, with information that could be checked and verified.

He does this with the very birth of Jesus. He bases it in human history at a specific place, where specific circumstances, brought about by specific people were ordained by God to bring the right timing for the birth of his Son, the Messiah.

Luke mentioned the decree for census from the emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus. He records the fact that Quirinius was governor of Syria. These facts are not valuable to the story at face value, but because he included them, we have evidence of the truth of the whole story. To deny them would be unreasonable.

The other historical note from Luke is the lineage of Joseph, which he will provide in full in 3:23-38. That David’s line was about to be added to in the very birthplace of David is not just an interesting trivia note either. It was a direct fulfilment of many Messianic prophecies, not just of the throne and kingdom of David, but of Bethlehem being a place of great significance in God’s promises of a deliverer ( Micah 5:2).

Nothing recorded in the bible is there by chance or for no reason. All of it testifies to the fact that God is concerned with human history, and in his timing, reveals himself to all with specific and undeniable truth.

Luke’s account shows us that one of the meanings of Christmas is that God is in control of history, and all of history points to his faithfulness.

2 – The Lowly Birth v 6-7

We complain as it is about the birth process. No matter how comfortable the setting, how relaxing the music playlist, how superb the medical team assisting is, the birth of a baby can be harrowing, stressful, anxious, and hard work, and that’s just for the fathers.

The reality that the eternal Son of God came to earth is one thing, but that he came as a baby seems (to who have experienced birth), is not just surprising, but if we are honest, undignified. Birth might be a miracle, but it’s not necessarily all beautiful. It’s humbling, somewhat undignified, and dramatic. Doesn’t exactly sound like something an eternal God would chose to go through.

Add to all of that the reality that the birth of Jesus took place in a stable, a shed, a dairy, a feedlot. That he was placed in a trough with hay, and wrapped in strips of cloths.If we heard of such a birth, we would rightly say it was not just unhygienic and uncomfortable, but also that it would be true poverty. To have no where but an animal’s shelter to give birth because there was no room, warmth or safety anywhere else.

That Jesus was born in such a way is sung about, endeared, and we get sentimental about. He was not born in a stable to provide us with a sentiment alone though. He was born in such a lowly and humble way to prove that God alone is worthy of faith and worship.

No other God can claim this – to become human, as a child, into poverty and suffering.

No religion in the world offers us the same way of salvation as a God who becomes man.

Islam sees this is blasphemy. Eastern religions talk about transcending humanity. Mythology talks of gods interacting with humans to only serve their own pleasures, but Christianity is unique in that it offers the only faith where God becomes man.

What we learn about the meaning of Christmas from this is that there is a God who is willing to suffer with and for humanity. There is a God who is glorious enough to humble himself. 

Christmas means that God has come, and he has come in the most scandalous way known to man – born to a virgin in a stable, but with great wonder all the same. It is undoubtedly shocking when we stop to think about it, but it is undeniably good.

Jesus was not the first king born in Bethelhem. David also was a king of Bethlehem, and he too was overlooked because of his lowliness ( 1 Samuel 16). God values what the world does not.

3 – The Good News v 8-20

That God has come, born as baby into this world, is what scripture declares, witnesses testified to, and millions through history have believed.

This wonderful announcement was first made to shepherds on a hillside near Bethlehem by an angel, who literally said that he was bringing them good news (2:10).

That they had fear is understandable.The answer to their fear though was for them to behold the good news of who Jesus was, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. Our fears so often pale when we consider God has provided deliverance in such an amazing way, and that he keeps all his promises.

In order for us to properly see how the shepherds were seen at that time, a comparison for in our day would be gypsies or even the kind of people we would see on “Struggle Street”.

These were not people anyone would pay attention to.

It is easy to ignore what God has to say because of the ordinary means he so often uses. If we say that God does not speak, we would be mistaken and  blind to some extent. He has spoken, and the greatest word he has given everyone is his own Son. 

It’s easy to think that if only the angels had told the message to everyone, all would believe. Even the angel said the message was for all people. But instead only the shepherds hear the message and are the ones who deliver it to others.

The message they shared was one of joy, glory to God and peace to all who believe.

How do all these things come? Joy, glory, and peace are all found in the arrival of Jesus.

The announcement of all these things is one thing, but humanity knows the truth that they are not readily available or accessible by human standards.

Christmastime is often spoken of as a time of peace and general goodwill, and there are many movements and people all over the world who would claim that peace can be made on earth if everyone could just pull together and love one another.

The message from the angels, the message of all of God’s Word is that peace is not achievable by human effort. The message and meaning of Christmas is that there is no peace on earth without peace with God.

Christmas, for all it’s goodwill and sentimental feelings during the season of the year, is actually at its core, quite a different way of looking at life. It doesn’t say, “We can do it, cheer up, it all work out if we pull together.” The bible knows nothing of this perception that mankind can defeat the forces of darkness. It does give sure hope that darkness can be defeated by light, but only by a light that comes from outside of this world to deliver all who believe. 

The light that has come into the world is Jesus, and all who behold him, just as the shepherds did, can have joy, peace and live lives that bring glory to God.

So what is the great meaning of Christmas?

It is that we cannot save ourselves.

It is that good news has arrived in the form of Jesus, the Son of God, who was born to die.

The Gospel is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. God comes to us, but he comes to die for us. The only reason the immortal would become mortal is to die, and that is the only way for all other mortals to be delivered from eternal death. 

The great thing about Jesus is that he is inescapable. Its a historically proven fact that he was born and lived, died and rose again.

It is extremely fascinating to us that he was born, and born in an extremely humble way. You cannot deny it’s not attractive or intriguing to know that the Son of God was born in a stable.

It is also undeniable that throughout history, no person has more affect on the world through every single century since his birth than he has.

“Your cannot escape Jesus Christ…The angels sang about him, and he is still the theme of the greatest music. Luke wrote about him, and he is still the subject of the greatest literature. The shepherds hastened to behold him, and he is still at the centre of the greatest art.” – Warren Wiersbe

There are only 3 options when it comes to Jesus, as CS Lewis put it – he is either liar, lunatic, or Lord. To say he is one of the first two a matter of personal faith in not accepting evidence that proves the third, but the  option you do not have is to ignore him, and you certainly don’t have the option of just liking him.

If he is Lord, is worthy of our faith, obedience and worship. If you are undecided about who he is to you, do what the shepherds did – behold him, adore him as who is declared to be, Christ the Lord.

“Gospel Freedom: The Consistent Gospel” Galatians 3:1-14

Consistency is a character trait we would all say we admire.

People who are predictable in their virtues and convictions resonate with us as an example to follow or as people to praise God for.

The greatest example of consistency we can find in all of human history is how God reveals himself to humankind.

In Galatians 3:1-14, Paul outlines this consistency and why it matters so much.

1 – The Gospel the Galatians Forgot v1-5

Paul has strong words for the Galatians from the very start of this letter (1:3). He calls them foolish twice (3:1 & 3:3). He is astonished at their acceptance of anything other than Christ, after all it was Jesus whom Paul clearly preached and portrayed to them (3:1b).

Paul’s charge against them was that they were not thinking or reasoning clearly. They had known the joy and freedom of God’s grace operating in their lives. Now, they were being deceived ( bewitched 3:1) by the Judaizers, and were giving up that freedom to live under the structures of the law in order to be accepted by God.

There is nothing more fundamental to the Christian faith than Christ crucified, and that is the exactly what Paul displayed to the Galatians, but they have forgotten.  

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone asks you questions but doesn’t think you know the answers, so answers for you and fires another question in the same breath?

Paul is not being a snappy quiz show host. He is not being arrogant. He is not being prideful. Paul in asking all these questions is seeking to drill into the Galatians a reminder of the things that are actually true about the Gospel.

The answers are meant to self-evident, even to foolish people, and they should be to all who trust in Christ as the only way to be saved and for assurance of that salvation.

He talks of them being ‘bewitched’,implying they have fallen under a spell, or a curse (3:10).They are not seeing clearly because they have allowed evil influences to blind them to the truth.

Paul effectively states: 

“If you are not under the Gospel, you are under a spell.” 

The problem at Galatia was that the deception had taken such a hold, the Spirit and faith had been forgotten (3:2). The Spirit is mentioned in tandem with hearing with faith (3:2 & 3:5) and is held in contrast to the works of the law, suffering in vain, and trusting in the flesh to get and retain favour with God. (3:2-5).

“The Spirit works as Christians don’t rely on their own works, but rather consciously and continuously rest in Christ alone for their acceptability and completeness. Paul links the Spirit and the gospel in the most inseparable terms. The Spirit works as you apply and use the gospel.” – Tim Keller 

Only pride would lead me to say that have received the Spirit by my own works. Only pride would say that I although the Spirit revealed Jesus to me, I will now be made perfect by what I do.

The Spirit can do no work where works take precedence to the Gospel. 

These are heavy words for believers, and as we hear the questions echo in our own mind, it would be very appropriate to ask if we too have been deceived by works of the flesh that blind us to the necessity of the Gospel of Christ crucified.

Answering them the right way is one thing, but this is not just an intellectual exercise. The answers are meant to be lived, not just affirmed.

When we do not live out the Gospel of Christ crucified in our lives, we are destined to live inconsistent lives and will soon lose sight of Jesus. 

“We are not only saved by the gospel, but we also grow by the gospel. Paul is saying that we don’t begin by faith and then proceed and grow through our works. We are not only justified by faith in Christ, we are also sanctified by faith in Christ. We never leave the gospel behind.” – Tim Keller 

2 – The Gospel That Was Preached to Abraham v.6-9

If the Judaizers were going to place such an emphasis on the necessity of keeping the law to be fully righteous in God’s eyes, Paul is going to tackle that on two fronts.

  • the actual definition of the law and it’s true purpose (3:19-29)
  • the fact that Abraham was counted as righteous before the law (3:6-9 & ff)

Abraham’s faith in God was not only counted as righteousness (3:6, Genesis 15:6), but it was counted so before the law was given.

So it is not those who follow the law who are children of Abraham, but those who have the same faith that he did (3:7).

Abraham was promised the same justification that would one day be offered to the Galatians and all Gentiles (3:8) and he accepted by faith the Gospel that was preached to him.

The blessing of Abraham is that faith in a faithful God and accepting his promises leads to justification.

“Saving faith is faith in God’s provision, not our performance.” – Tim Keller

3 – The Gospel of Available to Us v10-14

Attempting to be saved by works will lead to a bondage of anxiety and insecurity, as well as pride and boasting. It is a contradiction by definition, so even it’s results are contradictory and inconsistent.

When I trust in my own efforts, I can never quite be sure I am doing enough. At the same time, by comparing myself to others, know that I am doing better than them. It will make me sensitive to criticism, while being envious and intimidated by others one day, and looking down on others the next.

Either way, this life focused on self is a curse (3:10). No matter what I do, I can never do enough, and even if I do so much better than the next person, I am guilty of all of the law if I fail in one part. It is a crippling way to live. It is a life of condemnation.

If any person is going to base their identity and salvation in keeping the law, there can be no exceptions. A curse of damnation is upon anyone who fails in any regard in the keeping of the law.

Paul’s aim for the Galatians is not that they would face condemnation, or remain under the curse, but that they would again see Jesus clearly. 

In order to do so, Abraham is an example, but all of Scripture testifies to the fact that the righteous shall live by faith, and that faith must be an active acceptance of the promises of God. Paul stresses this point by saturating his letter with scriptural quotes and examples, not only of what the law requires, but of what real faith is, and how those who have it, live.

“There is an inseparable relationship between righteousness imputed by God and the right living of the person who is justified and who lives by faith.” – Maxie Dunnam 

The law does not require faith to live by it. It just requires work and total perfection.

Living by faith simply means we trust in a faithful God who provided all we need to be perfect despite our imperfections.

If the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ died on the cross, it follows that God is not a legalistic judge who demands what cannot be done. Instead, he is the only God who gives himself on our behalf, who suffers to the ultimate display of love.

Our redemption from the curse cost something.To redeem something, you must pay a price.

Paul doesn’t say that Jesus redeemed us by taking our curse from us, but by becoming a curse. He who knew no sin, became sin.

If Jesus became the curse for us, then by believing in him and trusting in him alone for salvation, we have become righteous in the same way. If his taking our sin on himself meant that he was cursed by God for us, then our receiving the blessing of salvation means that we are regarded by God as perfectly righteous and flawless (3:14).

The consistent Gospel of Christ crucified is not just the hallmark of Paul’s writings. He commands that it should be the sole distinctive of every Christian and every church. The church at Galatia forgot this Gospel and became inconsistent because they focussed on works they could do rather than the work Jesus had done. 

It is easy to become distracted. Distracted people soon become inconsistent people. Inconsistent people often become self-justifying people.

I make excuses when I am distracted by my phone at the meal table. That leads me to be inconsistent when my wife is looking at her phone when we are driving somewhere. I justify my actions by making all manner of excuses, either mentally or verbally, and all the while, knowing I am a hypocrite and have been distracted from what really matters.

In what ways are we inconsistent in our Christian walk?

When we forget the gospel, it’s not because we have never heard it, but because something else had captured our attention.

We would rather be identified sometimes with what we have grown comfortable with rather than the things that will actually lead us to be fruitful.

Where do we find our primary identity as believers? 

If it’s not found in the Gospel, we are in danger of being deceived or of even deceiving and distracting others.

Do some of my actions as a child of God prevent others from sharing in the promise of Abraham? 

It is easy to place barriers in the way of the gospel that are unnecessary and lead to hypocrisy and inconsistency. We must seek to reorientate ourselves with the gospel constantly.

Have I been distracted from the message of Christ crucified by my own desires and agendas? 

How can I recapture the picture of the Gospel in my heart and life? 

Surround yourself with people who speak the gospel to you and live the gospel around you. Gospel consistency on display leads to effective discipleship and fruitful living.

“This message is the proclamation of what has been done for us before it is a direction of what we must do…A Christian is not someone who knows about Jesus, but one who has ‘seen’ him on the cross. Our hearts are moved when we see not just that he died, but that he died for us.” – Tim Keller

When we see him clearly, we see our redemption, and our response is living a life of faith in the promises of God.

‘Gospel Freedom: A Purpose Driven Life’ Galatians 2:11-21

Nothing is more frustrating than inconsistency.

In sport, nothing is more annoying when your team can win by 100 points one week and lose the next. Or at work when a colleague or employee can one day be ultra efficient and the next be present only in body.

Inconsistency and hypocrisy are the greatest problems other people have.

We very rarely of course see these traits in ourselves, but every now again, we need reminders that anyone can make a misstep.

Even the great apostle, Peter, shows us even the strongest among us can be inconsistent when it comes to applying the gospel we say we believe to our every day lives and relationships.

Fear of the Circumcision Party v 11-13

Paul has shared about his trip to Jerusalem, and how the apostles had all united in the truth of the gospel, and had not submitted to those who had tried to force Gentile believers to become Jewish in order to be properly saved. Paul now publicly confronts Peter in Antioch because of his hypocrisy in this very matter (v11).

It wasn’t a matter of manners or rudeness on Peter’s part. This issue was much deeper than that. Peter stood condemned because of his change in behaviour towards the Gentile Christians when the Judaisers came to town (v12).

He went from eating with and fellowshipping freely with all Christians to completely withdrawing himself from the non Jewish ones. The reason given for this is put simply, fear (v12b).

Peter had a revelation from God about what was clean and unclean, or what was common and how God had declared His gospel was for all men through his meeting with Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11.

Peter also should’ve had fresh in his mind the situation with Titus in Jerusalem. He had seen the transforming power of the gospel at work in Jews and non Jews alike, and knew the truth that works cannot save.

Peter lost focus of the gospel and gave into peer pressure instead.
We all have our prejudices, and most of the time when we are giving into them, it’s because we’ve allowed ourselves to be influenced and intimidated by people we perceive as powerful. It becomes a kind of moral blackmail to say we won’t do this or that in our ministry expressions here because of what these people over here will say about us.

When we do things like this, we are trusting in men, and not in the gospel, and from that point on, all we do will be out of line with the gospel (v14) because we define ourselves by another’s opinion of us rather than who God has declared us to be.

The fear of man will always bring a snare, and the trap here is in failing to apply the gospel we say we believe.

The fear of man will always lead to hypocrisy.

Peter’s convictions hadn’t so much changed. No doubt he still believed the truth of the gospel and it’s freedom. He knew the Jewish customs in food and dress were not necessary to keep oneself holy or acceptable to God, but here, when it came to Gentiles believers, he stopped acting in accordance with his convictions. His theology hadn’t changed, but he had allowed his fear of what others thought of him override his obedience to God.

When we say the gospel is free, and any who believe in Jesus are saved and accepted in God, but act as if all Christians everywhere should say and act the exact same way we do, we are being hypocrites.

The other danger of hypocrisy, is that it spreads. It’s infectious.

The rest of the Jews started acted the same way (v13). Even Barnabas wasn’t immune to the fear of the circumcision party.

They hid behind a notion of separation and a claim of what would be most pleasing to God, but in distancing themselves from the Gentile Christians, they were distancing themselves from the Gospel. They rejected those whom God had accepted.

When we allow differences of culture, race, gender, upbringing, denomination, and social position to become more important than unity, we have missed the gospel.

“Legalism is looking to something besides Jesus Christ in order to be acceptable and clean before God. Legalism always results in pride and fear, psychologically, and exclusion and strife, socially” – Timothy Keller

Out of Step With the Gospel v 14-16

How do you know you’re out of step with the Gospel? When you add to it and judge others for nothing having the same traditions you do.

Too often we hear of other churches or Christians running events, doing outreach, and instead of praising God, we scoff, we mock and pridefully say, ‘Well, they don’t preach the Word’. When we do this we are being prejudicial and we are out of step with the Gospel.

“Every Christian group or denomination necessarily has many distinctions of belief and practice that have less to do with the core gospel beliefs and more to do with specific convictions about ethical behaviour or church policy. It is extremely easy to stress our distinctions in order to demonstrate to ourselves and others that our church is the superior or best one.” – Timothy Keller

The gospel truth is at stake anytime we turn aside from what God has instructed in order to follow a tradition of men. It breeds pride, fear and division.

Paul points out the clear contradiction of what Peter was doing. He was a Jew, living with Gentiles. He was effectively living as a Gentile on one hand, but at the same time, by his actions on the other hand, he was effectively telling Gentiles to live like Jews (v14). It didn’t make sense.

Paul also points out that although he and Peter are born Jewish, born with a blessing under covenant that Gentiles do not have, they both knew as Christians that a person is not made right with God by observing the law, but only by faith (v15-16). They knew the law could not save from sin, it only reveals it (3:19-24). What the law commands could never be the foundation for justification because no one can keep it, and every part of it must be kept. If we start picking and choosing which parts to follow while not adhering to other parts, none of it matters and we prove ourselves to be hypocrites.

We’re good at writing lists of things we don’t do. It’s easy to not do things you don’t do. What’s harder is to look at God’s list. It’s a higher standard, and surprisingly enough, usually doesn’t actually include the things we have on ours.

A Purpose Driven Life v 17-21

“The main point of this section is that right standing with God does not come from keeping the law, since everyone sins, but only through faith in Jesus Christ. All those who revert to the law only display their own sinfulness in returning to a covenant that has passed away, and hence they end up rejecting the grace of God given in the cross of Jesus Christ.” – Thomas Schreiner

The false charge is bought against the believers that if they are justified only in Jesus and are still sinners, that Christ is responsible for their sin. This is a foolish thing to suggest. On the contrary, when we restore the law as the basis of how we relate to God we automatically indict everyone as sinners, condemned without hope. The only thing reinstating the law would do for me is condemn me. The law is death to all who live by it, but to those who believe in Jesus, they have life in him because he took their condemnation!

The life we now live, as we believe in Jesus, is a life free of condemnation. It is most certainly not a life free of sin, and it is not a life free of needing to obey God’s will for us, but it is a life of purpose.Our purpose is glorify Christ in our lives.

If we think our salvation or our righteousness comes through any other means but Jesus, we are saying Jesus died for nothing.

The lessons for us from this passage are clear.

Don’t nullify the grace of God or cancel out the necessity of Christ’s death on the cross by being relying on keeping the law to be justified.

This means we should never ever give precedence to human traditions when they are in contradiction with the truth of the gospel. We should put no barriers in the way of someone coming to know Jesus and living a life pleasing to God. If we begin in the Spirit, we are to continue in the Spirit. (3:3).

We make a terrible error when we ask people to believe in Christ alone for salvation and then the moment they’re in the door, hand them a list of do’s and don’ts so they are fully accepted by God and the church body. If we do this, we may as well hang a sign outside the church saying, ‘Christ died for you, but it wasn’t enough.’

When we have these practices in place we are effectively saying Christ died for no purpose.

We learn that if we are confronted with a choice between loyalty to the systems of men and standing firm in the truth of the gospel, we must side with and stand for the gospel.

You can either have a fear driven life or a purpose driven life.Christ died for a purpose. Your life has a purpose. To live the life He has given you.

“We are reminded in the text to accept correction humbly. When others correct us, we must bring the criticism before God to see if it accords with the truth or to see if there are elements of truth in the rebuke.
We must beware if we think we have a special ministry of admonishing and correcting others, while at the same time we reject any criticism of ourselves!” – Thomas Schreiner

What is the best way to get around prejudice towards other Christians?

Share a meal.

Invite someone into your home, and have someone over for a meal. You might just be surprised what you have to learn and what others have to offer. You will also see the gospel on display in ways you never imagined.

“The Christian life is about living in line with the gospel throughout the whole of life, for the whole of our lives. We must go on as Christians as we started as Christians. After all, if at any point and in any way righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
Christ will do everything for you, or nothing…
If we realise we cannot save ourselves, Christ’s death will mean everything to us. And we will spend the life that he had given us in joyful service of Him, bringing our whole lives into line with the gospel.” – Timothy Keller

“Now You’re Here”

Now you’re here, we see the blessing that you bring

It’s such a joy to see you laugh, talk and sing.

We love your smile, the way you light up a room

Bringing light and happiness to dark and gloom.

Now you’re here, we are so happy, little one,

So happy to know you and call you our son.

Now you’re here, and things will never be the same,

Our home has the sound of your laughter, tears, and name.

Now you’re here, we make quite the team, you and I.

Together we make your mother laugh, and very often sigh.

You get your good looks from your mother,

And you share my sense of humour, so we soon hit off it off with one another.

People often say we look alike, every, single, day!

I’m just glad you are who you are, in every, single, way.

Now you’re here, we can’t believe the blue of your eyes.

We love you to the moon and back, through all the starry skies.

We’re really glad you’re here, we’re having lots of fun!

We’re just so glad to be your dad and mum.

Although we’ve only known you for one year long

You have become our blessing, gift, and song.

Now you’re here, we love to see that cheeky smile

Like when you find the remote control and try to run a mile

You love being heard, cuddled, sung to, read to, and seen

You also love to leave your handprints all over the TV screen.

I’m sure by now you’ve come to know

All the places we love to go

You seem to like long drives to many, many places

Where you can always put your smile on a million other faces.

You love your Eddie-Charlie Bear, Batman, and Tigger too,

You love to do the things that other little children do.

You love to watch Cars, Buck Denver, along with Veggie Tales

We hope your this phase ends when you also stop eating snails.

We’ve seen how you love to sing and dance

We long ago decided your love of all music is very good thing.

Colin and Nudge make you dance a silly way

And we sing along with Johnny Cash, NeedToBreathe, and a little of Third Day.

Now you’re here, there are so many things to thank God for

As the days, the weeks, and months pass by, we have more and more.

We thank Him for your life, your love, your joy

Even your midnight calls and early signs of a penchant to annoy.

We’d like to say we made you the way you are,

But God has to take the credit for getting you this far.

He’s making you beautiful in His perfect hour

And we know you are His before you are our’s.

We can’t believe you are already one year old

And we know there’s still so much of your story to be told

We met you such a short time ago

But you are so precious to us, Samuel Jobe.

“Free in Christ: The Distinctive & Necessity of Christian Unity” Galatians 2:1-10

If you have turned on your news this week, looked at your newsfeed or read a paper, chances are you have been exposed to conflicting opinions that create division.

It’s everywhere.Our nations, our workplaces, our families and our churches.

In this age of so much fracture and disunity in the world, the church needs more than ever to give proper attention to the emphasis the New Testament places on unity.

Paul had established the church at Galatia in the gospel of Christ, but now it was being undermined by false teachers who questioned his authority and claimed they themselves had higher authority.

Paul goes up to Jerusalem to settle once and for all that the gospel he preached was true and that the unity of the church in that gospel was vital.

1 – The Fear of Fruitless Work ( v1-2)

Paul goes to present his case for what he was proclaiming to the Gentiles to the apostles.

It seems as though he is seeking their approval, though he has already made it clear that the message he presents does not come from men and doesn’t need men’s approval, it comes from God, and that is all the authority it needs (1:10-11).

He feared his ‘having run in vain’, but not because he lacked any certainty about the Gospel he had been proclaiming.What he could not be certain of is if some of the apostles could be swayed by the false teachers.He feared that some of them might be distracted by prejudice towards the Gentiles (as happens with Peter in v11ff)  and compromise on the truth of the gospel – that it’s freely available to all.

If the apostles were to abandon the true gospel, then all of what Paul had been doing would be in vain.

The apostles though, fully accept Paul and confirm his ministry in the strongest way possible.

2 – The Threat of Slavery and the Freedom of the Gospel (v 3-5)

If we are to summarise the gospel Paul and the apostles preached, it would be that salvation is freely available to all, whether Jew or Gentile.

A summary of what the Judaisers were teaching is that all could be saved, but any saved Gentile must become Jewish in order to be properly saved.

Its often said that legalism is anything that adds works to salvation, but legalism at it’s heart is deceptive, subtle, and sometimes even attractive to those who believe. Legalism is doing something or not doing something in order to fully accepted by God, even though He has never directly spoken to that specific thing. It usually elevates a ritual, tradition, or principle that was a good thing in and of itself for a specific people, at specific time in a specific place, and makes it something that must be applied to all people at all times in every place. It teaches the doctrines of men as commandments of God, whether in application to salvation issues or holiness issues.

“Externalities are to do with our doing; internals have to do with our being; and Christianity is about who I am in Christ, not what I do for Him.” – Timothy Keller.

Paul states that gospel freedom was under threat from those who sought to bring people into the bondage of works based salvation(v.4).

It becomes a crucial point that Titus is present with Paul (v3) as he provides the perfect case study in Gentile conversion and how the apostles will respond.

We thank God that the apostles certainly did not yield to the pressure that was being placed on them. Instead, they fellowshipped freely with Titus, accepted Paul and Barnabas, and in so doing, preserved the gospel we have today. (v5b).

Division and slavery are not things we should ever submit to, and they are very real threats we face even today from different avenues, whether outside the church or even inside. 

The acceptance of Titus was public statement about the implications of the gospel. It is free to all, and an individual accepted by God by their faith in Christ, not by works.

In demanding that Titus, a Greek, should become Jewish to be properly saved, the false brethren showed a cultural prejudice. Also, they relied on fear to get their message across. It was intimidation, forceful, non-negotiable, ungracious. The clear implication was if you were not like them, you were not saved.

“If your salvation depends upon obeying the rules, then you want your rules to be very specific, do-able and clear. You don’t want: Love your neighbour as yourself, because that’s an impossibly high standard which has endless implications! 

You want: Don’t go there or Don’t drink this, or Don’t eat that.” – Timothy Keller

The freedom of the gospel cancels this kind of thinking out.

“Anyone who believes that our relationship with God is based on keeping up moral behaviour is on an endless treadmill of guilt and insecurity…Christians are not free to sin. Though we are not free of the moral law as a way to live, Christians are free from it as a system of salvation. We obey not in the fear and insecurity of hoping to earn our salvation, but in the freedom and security of knowing we are already saved in Christ. We obey in the freedom of gratitude.” – Timothy Keller 

3 – The Distinctive and Necessity of Gospel Unity ( v 4-10)

The main distinctive of gospel unity in the church of Jesus is freedom.

Christian unity takes no account of cultural, racial or ethnic differences. It takes no account of various people’s standing or influence. Even if that influence is a good one. Paul shows this clearly in that while the apostles were influential, it made no difference to him who they were – he was far more concerned with the gospel that they preached (v6).If God shows no partiality between Jew and Greek, male and female, slave or free, neither should we. ( 2:7, 3:28).

We too often place our traditions in the same authoritative place as the gospel. We make them non-negotiable, and when we do, we say to the ‘Tituses’ among us who love and follow Jesus, ‘You are not welcome here until you become like us.’ 

“ Many types of Christians add to their distinctions, such as belief in predestination, abstinence from certain practices, or speaking in tongues, to the gospel as ways we can be sure we are Christians. In other words, many churches will say that we are saved by faith alone, but we can only be sure we are real Christians if we have these distinctions.” – Timothy Keller 

Our commission is to make disciples of Jesus. Not clones of ourselves.

Christian unity means we must acknowledge we all have different callings.

Verse 7 shows us that Paul and Peter shared the same gospel, and were obeying the same commission, but both had different mission fields, so they had different ways of sharing with vastly different audiences.

Our outreach can quickly become very dry, methodical and even legalistic if we can only share the gospel in one way with one audience in mind.

It is the same message for all, and in a way, yes, the audience will always be the same, as all have sinned. But without a personal burden for a particular person or people that drives us to reach them personally with the gospel, shared from a perspective that they can understand and relate to, we might instead just be imposing a system on them.

When our preferences and traditions get in the way of how we engage with people around us, we not only fail to share the gospel effectively, we’ve created stagnation. We’ll never move out of Jerusalem if church everywhere else in the world has to be done the way we do it. We will just become an exclusive community club. 

Another mark of Christian unity, and perhaps the most challenging, is that poor are to be remembered by Christians everywhere.

Peter and Paul may have had different mission fields, but they were both constrained to look after the poor.

Those who are tight with their money will be tight with the gospel. If you think your money is yours and you’ve earned it, and that others should go and do the same, you’ll be the same with salvation. If you don’t see all of God’s provision as his grace, you probably won’t practically apply the free grace of salvation either.

There is also the irony that the strictest, most legalistic of all the law enforcers, don’t adhere to ones that God has laid out.

We’ll tell people to adhere to certain guidelines, regulations and bylaws that we have created in order to provide a safe, holy, sanctified environment where God can be pleased with our efforts. All the while we have neglected the greatest commandment we have been given, to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Ensuring on extreme, extra-biblical separation from various aspects of culture so we are not ‘spotted by the world’ will ensure never will be spotted by anyone in the world.

There are of course limits on unity. The whole reason Paul shares this account is to point out there are some professing believers we cannot unite with.False brethren had infiltrated the church and Paul was not willing to fellowship with them.

If you add to the gospel, you are not contributing to gospel unity. 

The gospel is already exclusive enough. 

It’s only through Jesus.

Anyone who comes to God through Jesus is included, for us to place restrictions on God’s blessing of fellowship and membership into his church where he has not, is not just prideful, it’s deadly bondage. 

We must never exclude from Christian unity and fellowship someone whom God has included.

Instead of seeking out what differences we have with others who are in Jesus, we could instead find ways we can partner together in the gospel, extending that right hand of fellowship (v9).

Do you know anyone from outside Jerusalem?

The best way to expand your application of the gospel is to meet someone outside our sphere of influence. Both Christian and not. 

How many unsaved people do you know? What can you do to get to know some?

Bake a cake?

Offer a lift to co-worker?

Change your job?

Share a meal?

How are you studying the gospel in ways that will help you reach those who haven’t heard it?

The best way towards unity with other believers is of course to worship with them, and to share in the Lord’s Table together.

There’s not greater blessing than in sharing a simple meal.

Fellowship happens when we acknowledge a common bond. In Christ we have the strongest bond available.

“Gospel Freedom: A Story of Grace” Galatians 1:11-24

Stories are powerful things. We get caught up in our imaginations to other times, places, and possibilities that can inspire us, and even change our lives because of the truths that become real to us.

Each of us is living a story. Paul had a big story, and his story of Christian conversion and calling to be an apostle, is maybe one of the most pivotal testimonies of all of Christian history.

He shares his story with the church at Galatia, not only as a justification as to why he has the right to tell them to listen to him, but more ultimately, as a testimony to the freedom of grace and the transforming power of the gospel, which were the key issues he wanted them to know of in writing to them.
A Vessel Of Grace v. 10-16

There’s no possible way, Paul says, to preach the gospel of Jesus and please men at the same time (v10-11).

One of the marks of a true believer is that they stop looking to please men and only look to please God.

Paul’s salvation was real and the message he shared with them was true, not because he thought it up, or passed on what he had heard from others, but because both his salvation and the message of how everyone else could be saved comes only from God.

“How can we recognise the true gospel? Its marks are given here. They concern its substance (what it is) and its source (where it comes from).” – John Stott

His calling and commission were completely supernatural, so to accuse Paul of manufacturing a ‘cleverly devised fable’ ( 2 Peter 1:16) is not only to charge him with lying, but it also discounts the work and character of God.

Before his conversion, he was fully convinced against Christ. He was so convinced that he violently persecuted any who followed Jesus with the church’s destruction in mind. (v13).
To go from that, to preaching that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to be saved, is miraculous!

Paul could testify, that in looking back over his life, God had ordained that he was who he was in order to become who God intended him to be.

God never causes anyone to sin ( James 1:13-14). No one will ever be able to stand before God and blame Him for their poor choices. We will, however, if we have believed in Jesus, be able to stand before God and glorify Him for somehow using our lives, as faulty and fallen as they were, and redeeming them for His ultimate purpose and glory.

“The gospel gives us a pair of spectacles through which we can review our own lives and see God preparing us and shaping us, even through our own failures and sins, to become vessels of His grace in the world.” – Tim Keller

From before birth, Paul knows God’s grace was doing something that he could in no way ever make up himself.

This is the amazing grace of God to all who believe in Jesus as His Son and His finished work of salvation on the Cross and His rising from the dead – God has loved us before you were born and destined you to be called to his glory.

That can be a deep theology that many would wish to argue on certain points, but the truth of Scripture is this – you cannot save yourself. God has to step in and show you Jesus so you can receive Him and be saved from the consequences of your poor choices. The only other option is we ignore the grace of God and revelation of Jesus and face the full, eternal consequences for our choices.

Paul accepted this truth of election by grace through faith, and we too, should not be afraid of it.

Paul, along with the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, know that God gave them a calling from before birth, not only of salvation, but to speak His word, and to do so without shame.

God has prepared something for all of His children to do. If we examine our lives through the lens of grace and redemption instead of the lens of works and self-righteousness, we may well be able to see what He has in mind for us. A big part of that will be telling our story of God’s love for us.

“God revealed Christ to Paul so that He could reveal Christ through Paul. This shows us a critical difference between a mere religious or moral person and a Christian. A Christian has more than an intellectual belief in Christ; they sense a personal relationship. And they know that this relationship is not given to them solely for their own personal comfort and joy. They know they have a responsibility to reveal Christ to others through what they are, do, and say.” – Tim Keller

A religious and moral person is in it for themselves and their own glory. A Christian denies themselves to point others to Jesus.

2. A True, Accepted Apostle v. 16-2:10

Paul spends some time elaborating on his early years as a believer in order to again reiterate that his message was not made up, or an elaborate public relations stunt by the apostles.

When he was first converted and called, he doesn’t consult with any person, and he actually has no contact with the apostles for three years. (v16-17).

Even when he did go to meet them, he only spent time with Peter and then saw James very briefly. It was fourteen more years before he met the rest of the apostles (2:1-10).

They then confirmed his ministry, salvation and calling, but in no way did they force or coerce him into being converted or coach him in what to say.

The men that had spent the most time with Jesus while he was on earth, who knew him better than anyone else, confirmed that all that Paul said about Jesus was true.

They also had no interest in forcing Christian converts to adhere to Jewish law (2:3-5), which again, gives Paul more credibility to speak to the issue he is writing about.

Those accusing him literally had no case at all. Paul and his message were accepted by the apostles. If you reject him, you reject them.

3. A Blameless Man Under the Law v. 13-14

Why is Paul stressing this supernatural Providence in the gospel message – both in receiving salvation and the calling to share it?

We must remember that the key issue that Paul is addressing in all of this is the traditions of men that had been given more authority than the gospel of Christ.

The Judaizers were ironically trying to pit themselves against the greatest Judaizer that ever lived. They were trying to argue the law against the man who was the most preeminent law keeper and enforcer of his generation. If anyone had a reason to be confident of his law keeping abilities, it was Paul ( Philippians 3:4-6).

His record was impeccable, his pedigree was undeniable, his zeal and self-righteousness were beyond compare. To say he was an expert in these matters would be a gross understatement. He was qualified to speak to this topic of salvation by law and works or salvation by grace and divine revelation.

We learn much about Paul here in what he shares about his journey from zealous law keeping for salvation to being zealous for God’s grace and holiness because of his salvation.

Paul’s story shows us also that are two faces to repentance.

We rightly think of repentance as being when we turn to God in faith, and in so doing, we see Him as being far more attractive and desirable than anything else this world offers, so we seek His goodness and beauty by turning away more and more from lifestyles and choices that do not please God, and seek the fruits of the Spirit rather than the temporal pleasures of the flesh.

There is another side to repentance where we not only are called to repent of the wrong things we do, but also of the right things we have done for the wrong reasons. Paul’s law keeping of God’s law was not wrong. His motives for doing so were though. We so often seek repentance of our ‘bad works’ but every now again we need to examine the motives of our ‘good works’. If we are doing them for ourselves, to promote our reputation and glory in comparison to others, our motives are wrong. If we do good works to bring glory to God, and aren’t worried if we never get any recognition for them, we’re on a far better path.

“Paul’s experience proves vividly that the gospel is not simply ‘religion’ as it is generally understood. The gospel calls us out of religion as much as it calls us out of irreligion. No one is so good that they don’t need the grace of the gospel, nor so bad that they can’t receive the grace of the gospel.” – Tim Keller

We can become zealous for things that lead us to persecute others of a differing opinion or conviction and seek their destruction, when ultimately, we are destroying ourselves because we are trusting in something other than Jesus for our salvation or holiness.

Paul shows us that no one is beyond the need for or reach of grace.

What we learn more than anything else from this passage is that the gospel is not come from human beings, but from God.

“The gospel represents a transcendent word from God – a word from above that speaks authoritatively and infallibly to human beings. Hence, the rejection of the gospel amounts to a repudiation of what God himself has communicated.” – Thomas Schreiner

Do you have a story to tell?

“ Paul is a good example to us here. He shows us that we must have the courage to be vulnerable and speak personally about what the gospel means to us…he gets personal to make the gospel clear.” – Tim Keller

Is your journey one that ,on reflection, you can see redemption’s threads weaving through?

Or are you more concerned with discounting God’s work so you can more clearly show your own?

When people look at us, and all we have accomplished in our life and message that we share, who do they give the glory to? ( v24).

We need to tell our story so well, that the only person people have in mind at the end is Jesus.

A Long Obedience In The Same Direction. 1 Timothy 4

Stepping up in life to new challenges and endeavours can be daunting, even overwhelming.

A new job, a new place to live, a new study environment are life changing events, and should never be approached lightly, as these kind of decisions can shape your life, and even your eternity.

Timothy had been left in Ephesus by Paul and faced a big task, to make sure the faith and doctrine that Paul had founded the church on remained unchanged.( 1 Timothy 1:3-5).There are many challenges that faced Timothy because of this role, not the least was a perception about his age (4:12).

The encouragement Paul gives here instructs any who are seeking to be a good servant of Christ ( 4:6) and what true knowledge really is, and the importance of living godly when life is still ahead of you.

1 – Guard the Deposit v 1-5, 6:20-21, 2 Timothy 1:13-14

Paul makes it clear to Timothy, there are devilish teachings which he will have to guard himself, and those in his charge, against.

It’s not always the outright, blatant denial of the person, deity, and work of Jesus Christ that is the leading point of these devilish false teachers. It’s usually something far more subtle. Something that deceives, tricks, that sounds right, looks right, even feels right, but ends up being purely demonic. It’s falsely called “knowledge”. (6:20).

Paul gives the example of legalism. It’s teaching that adds works to salvation that is the greatest trap for every believer.

With convincing arguments, the teachers that Paul was warning of, had taken the command for purity to extents far beyond what God ever intended, making marriage a forbidden thing. They had called good things made by God evil things, demanding abstinence from things that Jesus had declared clean, and could be made holy by closer examination of God’s Word and prayerful consideration ( 4:5).

Alarm bells should ring every time we hear a call for abstinence that cannot be found in scripture.

These false things, Paul, says, must be avoided, and the true things must be taught, reiterated, and firmly guarded.

The devil loves it when people get distracted by false teachings. Anything that takes one’s eyes off of Jesus, whether it’s morality or vice, pleases the devil. He can use guilt just as much as he can use a seared conscience to his ends. He will always appeal to the flesh. Don’t become proud in your knowledge and don’t be tricked into following foolishness.
2 – Train Yourself For Godliness v. 6-10

The answer to this that Paul gives Timothy is give himself more and more over to training in what he has already received.

The words of the faith and the good doctrine (4:6b) are the antidote to lies and deception. He will remain a faithful servant of Jesus, so long as his focus stays on Jesus (4:6).

What are these ‘silly myths’ that Timothy is being warned against? (4:7)

Paul is building from what he has already stated in 1:4. Things that promote speculation, conspiracies rather than truth are things that distract us from training ourselves in the faith, or exercising our gifts.

We become poor stewards when we use our time, our resources, or other people’s time and resources to endlessly talk about things that have absolutely no bearing on eternity or the advancing of the Gospel.

Paul says that we should have nothing to do with these things, but rather, focus our energy, our time, our hearts, minds, and strength on Godliness.

The example he gives of physical exercise (v8a) is often quoted by unfit people out of context, but he proves a valid point, don’t get caught up in foolishness. The only thing that gets a workout when we exercise our flesh is our flesh. Get into arguments on social media. Berate everyone you come in contact with because they don’t think the way you do. Find the negative in every sermon, every person, every event, every point. Your flesh will be strong, and your love will be absent, and you will not have a hint of Godliness.

Instead, exercise yourself in Godliness. You are not working in the flesh so you can have notoriety in this life. You are doing what you can, with what you have, so long as God gives you breath, to build a legacy of Godliness that bears fruit for eternity.

Our hope is not found in what we can do to be noticed by others, or in what they say of us. It is found in the Saviour of the world ( 4:10).

Godliness should be the sole ambition of the good servant of Christ. Anything that distracts us from that shows that our hopes and loves are out of order. A hope set on the living God, leads to a life of value, and one that matters for eternity.

3 – Practice The Long Obedience In The Same Direction v. 11-16

This kind of lifestyle is a lifelong process. There are no shortcuts. There is only grace, and a lifelong ambition to become more like Jesus, every single day.

This a difficult thing to accept in our fast paced, instant society where if we have to wait more than five minutes for a takeaway meal, we feel put out. We want instant gratification, instant success.

Church can be the same.We demand instant help, instant inspiration, instant maturity, but true discipleship is none of these. It is a ‘long obedience in the same direction’.

“There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.” – Eugene Peterson

A life of consistency, integrity, maturity is never achieved overnight, and perfection is never achieved in this lifetime.

This commitment to lifelong repentance is something that is best fostered in a community that encourages youthful energy rather than despising anything new or different.

Timothy faced opposition not just because the message he had was the opposite of what many wanted, but because of his age.

Too often, there is awful lot of despising of youth and not enough encouragement of the progress they are making in godliness (4:15b).

Timothy’s lack of life experience should not be an obstacle, Paul points out, because Timothy is setting such an example in so many areas of his life, anyone who dismisses him based on his age, is wrong to do so, and he should press on into the living his life and doing what God has called him to do.

There is a culture of despising of youth in some churches that goes directly against Paul’s explicit commands here. We are far quicker to criticise and even heckle than we are to encourage, come alongside and commit to seeing Christ being formed in another. We are sin hunters far more than we are grace hunters.

1 Timothy 5:1 will point out that I can’t rebuke someone older. But I can encourage them.So,I strongly encourage the older Christians of our churches to not despise the youth.

If you want to influence them, live Godly,humble, and consistent lives that bring honour to God. Don’t seek opportunities to condemn, or be cynical, but seek opportunity to encourage, and above all, let them know you are praying for them.

I have learnt far more from Godly older Christians who show me how to live rather than telling me how to live. Young people never learn to be godly by being despised. They learn Godliness by example. They don’t look for perfection, but they do see faithfulness and they will honour that.

We as a church have mastered the art of criticism. It’s time to start mastering discipleship instead.

All of this is not to say there is not an explicit call to purity of life and doctrine that young people should be exhorted to.

There is this delicate balance of Godliness. We are required to trust fully in God, and rely completely on the work of Jesus for our salvation and sanctification, but we are,nonetheless, called to works. It is a great privilege to have this calling.

There are five key areas that Paul points out that are specific for Timothy in his young adulthood that will negate the condemnation he was facing because of his age. If he can be an example in these, his youth will not be a hinderance to those who which to make it one.


What you say matters. The tongue is powerful. James tells us that in his epistle. It can bring life or death. Are your words offering the Word of Life?


What you do, matters. We abuse grace when we live for ourselves. In our actions, our lifestyle, who is revealed to be in charge? Us, or Jesus?


Who and what you love, and in what order you love them, matters. Love is first and foremost self-sacrificing. Our love must reflect the love of Christ, otherwise it’s only self-serving.


What you believe, matters. People may hear what we believe, but do they see it in action? Our faith is not intellectual only, but reaches to every part of our lives. A legacy of faithfulness is the ultimate fruit of a sure faith.


Your sexuality, your thought life matters. This begins in our hearts.

Restrictions and regulations don’t necessarily lead to purity. Boundaries are vital to ensure intimacy is approached with the right God-honouring attitude, but ultimately, purity is a matter of the heart. If our hearts are not holy, our minds certainly won’t be, and will be on the fast track to sexual, emotional and spiritual ruin. The chance of impurity is greatly removed when we see members of the opposite sex as siblings in the Lord ( 1 Timothy 5:2).

“There is no struggle for purity so intense that Jesus’ grace cannot win the battle.” – Heath Lambert

Paul tells Timothy to immerse himself in these things ( 4:15), to be captivated with pleasing God is an honourable calling, and it is something every believer is called to.
The call of this passage is not to be like Timothy, or even like Paul. The point is that we are called to be good servants of Christ, and we would all do well to heed Paul’s advice.

Don’t be fooled by the traps of works-based salvation or sanctification. Be immersed in the Gospel, and in pleasing God with your life.

Don’t pay attention to those who would seek to distract you, either by foolish arguments and silly myths or by being negative about your chances of success. Focus on your calling, your gift, and do all you do for God’s glory.

Set your hopes, loves, and total focus on Him, and He will bless you with the fruit of faithfulness.

“Looking for the King: The Friend of The True King” – 1 Samuel

Friendships are something we value and treasure. Finding friends can be hard. Being one can be even harder.But lifelong friendships, forged in the fires of mutual suffering, without personal agendas, show the great possibility of peace and joy in this life.

The friendship of David and Jonathan is one that comes out of incredibly unique circumstances. These two men should have been bitter rivals, but instead, they have one of the most intimate and touching relationships recorded in all of Scripture.

1 The Friendship of Jonathan 18:1-5

Jonathan was royalty, but David was a shepherd boy. Jonathan also would’ve been much older than David, but yet their friendship was closer than brotherhood.

That their souls were ‘knit together’ (18:1) and that they made vows regarding their friendship and bond, shows us that these two men loved each other without pretence.

It wasn’t a strategic or coercive alliance.

Jonathan had everything to lose, and David had little to offer, but Jonathan is aware that God’s anointing was on David.

It wasn’t a ‘I’ll be your best friend if you give me all your lollies’ or ‘I’ll be your best friend if you act exactly like I do’ , kind of promise. It was a total commitment to the other for the sake of the other.

His giving over of his robes, armour and weapons (18:4) is an acknowledgement of the fact that he was not going to inherit his father’s throne.David had been anointed, and Jonathan was willing to submit to the will of God, which meant resigning his own rights.

Like Jonathan, we are meant to give over our right to reign in our lives. There can only be one king, and only the King that God has provided will be enough for a life of sure integrity and uncompromising conviction in the face of great hostility.

“This David – Jonathan sort of friendship is a love that sets the other free to be himself or herself – a commitment with no demands. In a culture like ours in which there is widespread avoidance of commitment because they are confining, this story of a love commitment that is freeing is a breath of fresh air. Healthy relationships do not restrict our lives; they expand our lives.” – Eugene Peterson

We look at their friendship and see it as extraordinary. But there is no supernatural power you need in order to have a close friendship with another person. Just complete openness, honesty, and accountability, all of which go both ways.

There is place for bonds of friendship, ties that can’t be broken, not matter what lies ahead in life, a unity of mind, heart and spirit to one single goal.

It’s not just marriage that serves this end. Friendship, when done in a God-honouring way, can be a vital tool to our holiness and sanctification.

You will never achieve any level of satisfactory growth in the Christian life while living isolated from everyone else around you.

In a world that’s more ‘social’ than ever, we are in need of friendships that build another up in Christ, where we can serve others with no other ambition but to see them become who God intends them to be.
2 The Jealousy of Saul 18:6-20:42

When we think of our ‘social’ culture that grounds most connections through media, we are all too aware of the seriousness of being ‘unfriended’, or worse, ‘blocked’.If Saul had a FaceBook, his activity would provide much cause for concern. Singing the praises of his friends and family one day, plotting their death and insulting them with vile language ( 20:30) the next.

It started very soon after Goliath’s defeat (18:6-10), with the songs women sang about the thousands and tens of thousands. ( 18:6-9).

Why all this was happening is clear to us – God was with David, and was no longer with Saul (18:12). David’s successes were due God’s clear blessing on his life.

Jonathan loves David. Michal loves David. The people love David. God clearly loves David. Saul cannot love him, and refuses to accept God’s plan for David, and becomes insanely jealous and fearful of David.

This is something we see all around us in a culture gone mad with self-absorption and pride, but jealousy is not limited to the world. We find it our homes, our churches, ourselves.

“Jealousy is a terrible emotion. Jealousy is the scab you keep picking only to have the wound fester. Jealousy is a hunger you simply cannot satisfy; the more you eat, the emptier you feel, and it forces you to feed it once again. Jealousy is a pain that will not abate; it persists and pounds us until we are pushed to the point of no return. Jealousy is a terrible and harsh master.” – JD Greear and Heath Thomas.

“Envy is mother of malice and gives birth to murder.” – Tim Chester

When we are envious of someone to the extent we long to see them fail we are not only committing murder in our hearts ( Matthew 5:21-22) but we are saying we know better than God. We are convinced that God is not Sovereign and is not concerned with our ultimate good.

Saul thinks he can use Michal’s love for David to his advantage and David’s destruction.(18:20-21)

When we start manipulating others peoples affections and emotions so we can accomplish our own agenda, we have exalted ourselves to a dangerous and destructive position.

Families are divided and relationships destroyed when jealousy and bitterness get a foothold. Destruction follows when selfishness rules hearts.

This whole story shows the important distinction between those who embrace God and His Messiah, and those who reject Him.

Saul, in the end, stands alone. Which is where jealousy, spite, pride, manipulation and selfishness always end. Alone. Separated from God and all the good things that He has in store for those who submit to Him and His plan.

The answer to jealousy is the same as it is for shame, which was another emotion that Saul struggled with. To find your identity in Christ as your Saviour, not in comparing yourself to others or always obsessing over what they say about you.
3 The Interceding Son 19:1 – 20:42

Saul plots several different ways to kill David, and all backfire on him, and only add to David’s renown.

He thinks having him for a son-in-law will give him a further level of control over his life, and sets an outrageous dowry ( 18:25) which David goes above and beyond in (18:27).

Next time,Jonathan intercedes for David, and reasons Saul out of it. ( 19:1-7).

Saul then tried to spear David again, who barely escaped ( 19:10).

He sent assassins, who had some scruples, as they did want to murder a sick man ( 19:11-17) and Michal goes directly against her father by protecting David, and helping him escape again.

History repeats as Saul comes looking for Samuel at Ramah. In chapter 9, Saul first meets Samuel while trying to find his donkeys. He ends up being anointed as king, much to his shock and he reacts with great humility, and as sign of this being of God, Saul prophesies and people marvel, and the Spirit of God comes upon him with power and authority (11:6).

This time he is looking for David and come to Samuel, but here there is great reversal. He is again overcome by the power of God and prophesies, but this time, it humiliates him rather than exalts him (19:22-24).

When anyone goes against the Word of God, there can only be one outcome. Saul had set himself against David, and in doing so, had set himself against what God had declared. If you think you can outmanoeuvre the Will of God, you will end up humiliated and bearing a testimony to His greatness by your smallness.

It doesn’t take long for Saul’s anger towards David to rear it’s ugly head again when David doesn’t show up to the feast and Saul sees through the story Jonathan had made up to defend him for not attending the feast. Jonathan ends up on the end of another failed spear attack, as Saul’s tryouts for StormTrooper continue.

The two friends part in peace. David is the most upset ( 20:41), as he well knows what it has cost Jonathan to save his life.

They again make a vow, not just that will cover their own lives, but also their future generations (20:42). Saul would not be the determining factor to their friendship and bond. They would not be defined by what drives them apart. They would seek peace for one another, even in spite of difficult barriers. What God has declared will be what they cling to. No “BFFs” bracelets were needed.

David makes good on all his promises with Jonathan many years later by caring for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth ( 2 Samuel 9).

4 – The Friend of the King

David acts with integrity in the face of hatred and personal vendetta.

“David’s integrity before God was his strongest weapon during the years of persecution from Saul. You cannot control what people do to you, but you can control what you do with God.” – Warren Wiersbe

Jonathan was faced with a choice. He had to chose between having peace with God’s anointed, or accomodating compromise and evil.

“To side with Jesus will always mean difficult decisions.” – Tim Chester

When we choose to trust the Word of God rather than be fearful of men, we face hard choices.

Saul chose to be spiteful, bitter, angry, self-righteous. He did not need the Word of God, and refused to accept it. He turned on anyone who got in his way.

Jonathan chose to believe the Word of God, and that lead him to form a friendship with David that even death could not break.

To trust in God’s anointed is the call of every human being who has ever lived.

To be interceded for by the Son of the Great King, who is willing to bear the wrath of the father for the sake of saving others, is the great blessing of any who chose to believe on the Son.

If you believe on the Son, you have life.

Jesus was the Son who bore the full righteous wrath, and actually did die, but not for the sins of the father, but for the sins of the whole world, and for the glory of the Father.

He also gave up His crown to gain glory.

Oh, to be a Jonathan, a be a ‘forever friend’ of the true King!

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