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Archive for June, 2009

Reading the Caananite woman narrative in Matthew 15:21-28, my ESV translation puts a subtitle: The Faith of a Caananite Woman. I agree that the woman’s faith was indeed exemplary compared to the Pharisees (Matthew 15:1-20) who are a part of the lost sheep of the house of Israel to whom Jesus Christ was sent to (15:24) . But according to the advise of many wise bible teachers whom I respect, I must get used to reading the Scriptures without the subtitles and verse numbers.

Looking to that particular narrative, what jumps out of it are the two ways the Caananite woman called the Lord.  First, as “Lord, Son of David” to which the Lord Jesus answered her about what we have noted above (15:24). You see there was nothing essentially wrong about the title because Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of David who has come – a messianic title if you please. However, her second call was markedly different (15:25), “Lord…”  Did you notice that?

Someone might say she was persistent that is why she got her answer. I am sure she was persistent and good for her! But the real difference was that the first call, she seems to be identifying herself with the Israelites by saying “Son of David”.  This gentile woman does not have the Jewish covenant to merit the help.  By the Lord’s answer, He stressed that she does not belong to that household. But, then you see the dramatic change; all of a sudden the pretention was removed. She no longer tried to identify with the Jews but came to the Lord plainly: a person who does not deserve anything (“It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” 15:26) but begged Him who is merciful even to the lost outside the household of Israel.  She simply called Him, “Lord”.

And from where she stood, the Lord richly commended her and on which readers twenty centuries later are still marvelling at (15:28)!  She was not like the Pharisees who praised Him with their lips, yet whose hearts are distant from Him (15:7-9), but she was drawn to Him… now exhibiting a heart that was so poor, as someone who waits for crumbs that would fall from the master’s table, drawn by the very Lord of mercy who alone can heal both body and spirit.  There was nothing in the text that tells us explicitly that she was following Him constantly but she could have witnessed or heard all His marvelous works from chapter 14 alone. These miracles were indeed significant for even Herod the tetrarch could have sworn that the power (the Holy Spirit whom Herod does not know) in John the Baptist – who had no physical miracles to display and yet so powerfully proclaimed the word of God – is all the more at work in Jesus who had both the powerfully proclaimed Gospel accompanied by miracles to prove that He is indeed Immanuel (Matthew 14:1-2; 1:21-23).

And yes, the Caananite woman’s daughter was healed but more importantly, she went home with the greatest miracle – a heart that was transformed by the same Holy Spirit and be drawn with great faith to the Lord Jesus Himself .

Glory be to the Triune God!

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One of Ephesus’ most famous structure of antiquity today is the Temple of Artemis (what remains of it) which is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  From the account in the book of Acts (ch. 18:24 – 19:41; 20:17-36), the place was marked with the worship of the goddess Artemis, demonic possession, occult and the trade on paraphernalia on these matters. In fact these evil practice  were so engrained into the lives of the people that they would fiercely resist the entry of other teachings that would threaten to change their beliefs.  And I am referring to their opposition to the Gospel preached by the apostle Paul.  However, the word of the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 1:8 is that the Gospel will spread to the ends of the earth, and and will radically transform the lives of those whom God will save; these indeed are certainties as worked out by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

Knowing this brief background helps us understand why there was a need to teach on the full armor of God (panoplian tou Theos) in Ephesians 6:10-20 pericope. A short series entitled “PANOPLY” begins today. An outline herebelow will assist us in the course of our study:

  • Be strong in the Lord
  • Spiritual enemies
  • Inclusio of verses 11 and 13 – to stand
  • Full Armor of God
  • Prayer

It is interesting to note that the religious climate during Paul’s sojourn in Ephesus is really quite similar today:  the deification of man, deceptive signs and wonders, and man’s unquenchable thirst for the occult. Television alone is filled with programs that showcase these. Therefore, the teachings contained in the epistle to the Ephesians are all the more relevant to present day Christians who need to face these spiritual enemies daily, in the hopes that God will sharpen their discernment.

May God’s Spirit enlighten us and ground us in the Gospel of His only begotten Son, for the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.

Next:  Panoply Series – Part 1 – Two Kingdoms at War (link below): https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/panoply-series-part-1/

 

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Post by Email

“This is a test on this “blog by email” facility.”

Yesssss! Neophyte bloggers like me have fun when discovering and learning some new facilities with WordPress.  I can now blog  using an email address generated automatically for me!  Really, this is becoming very interesting.

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PRAYER OF A MINOR PROPHET

(the covenant and prayer of a preacher)

 A. W. Tozer

 

 

 

This is the prayer of a man called to be a witness to the nations. This is what he said to his Lord on the day of his ordination. After the elders and ministers had prayed and laid their hands on him he withdrew to meet his Savior in the secret place and in the silence, farther in than his well-meaning brethren could take him.

And he said: O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou has called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou art about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, my Lord, Thou has stooped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man taketh this honor upon himself save he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant. My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou has said, “I knew thee – I ordained thee – I sanctified thee,” and Thou hast also said, “Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou will honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils, which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should become a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour that I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.

Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself and from all the injuries I may do myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.

Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen. AMEN.

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Grace in Africa

In a recent news item, the most perceivable growth in religious fervor is in the African continent. That alone made my heart leap. It further mentioned that Christianity was the religion in focus…but no sooner was the downside of the report. As the commentary proceeded, I learned that it was the “positive confession movement” that proliferated exponentially in that region and the hyper-end of the pentecostal movement. This dampened my joy seriously.

But I won’t talk about this news any further.  Indeed God’s grace is flowing to Africa through the preaching of the Gospel and surely, as He promised, there will be people from every tribe, tongue and nation in this continent who will be enjoined to be a part of the spiritual household in which His Son, Jesus Christ is both Lord and King forevermore.  What I want to say in this blog is that today, I have received an email from Africa, more precisely from Nigeria – from sis Grace Eleri.  Yes, Grace in Africa!

She was with us during her tenure in the middle east and I was blessed with this sister’s love and zeal for the Lord. She was under the women’s hospital group handled by another wonderful sister in Christ, Bec Duque. I am certain that the Holy Spirit has engraved in her mind and heart all about the Scriptures that she has learned when she was with us. And I am confident that the good work that God has began in her life, He is faithful to complete until the day of the Lord Jesus return.  May the Lord keep her and her family in safety at all times, building them up in faith and protecting them from the excesses of other groups that have welcomed the pseudo-christian ‘positive confession movement’.

Yes, that is God’s grace upon Grace.

Salamat sa Panginoon! (Filipino for “thanks be to the Lord”.)

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warning signLinks to “possibly related articles” are generated by WordPress.com whenever you try to submit a comment on some of my posts. Please exercise discernment! Unless they conform to the whole counsel of God in the Scriptures, they are to be rejected.

“The unfolding of Your Word gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” – Psalm 119:130 ESV

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Holy BibleFriday here and its our group’s (Jesus our Good Lord, or simply JOGL) bible study day.

We are studying the Parable of the Householder in Matthew 13:51-52. Although the parable itself is in verse 52 only, it is important to connect the 51st verse.  The Lord Jesus Christ has just finished teaching a group of parables for the first time to His disciples (the ‘Twelve’) and He concludes it with this parable.  Briefly: having understood His teachings, as the disciples acknowledged, He now compares an instructed student (referred to as ‘scribe’) to be able to present the teachings of the Law (old treasures) which they have known since childhood being part of the household of Israel, and the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (new treasures).  Really, these are but one treasure – the Gospel veiled in the Old Testament and revealed clearly in Jesus Christ (the true Scribe and Householder) in the New Testament.  Jesus clarified in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17) that He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets (OT) but to fulfill it – in both its righteous requirements and every typology pointing to Him as the fulfillment thereof.

We are to be trained and instructed as ‘scribes’ learning both the old and new testaments of the Scriptures, knowing the full counsel of God and see the Gospel preached in all Scriptures.  And then, we are to freely and with much eagerness share these truths to all who may come across our paths.  The Greek word for ‘bring out’ in verse 52 is ekballei which gives a picture of someone hurling something (as perhaps a net – notice that was the picture in the parable preceding this one).

Sadly, the narrative that followed was that the people in the synagogues in Nazareth where Jesus went (His own household to bring out the old and new treasures as prefaced by the preceding parable)  rejected Him despite having been ‘blown away’ by the teachings they have heard from Him.   The true disciples, however, continued in His teachings which were now handed down to us in the Scriptures contained in the Bible.

I enjoined everyone to come and know Christ Jesus and learn well from Him for in these last days, God spoke to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2) now enscripturated in the Bible.  Today, the Lord calls unto us still to come to Him and learn from Him (Matthew 11:28-30).

Are you His well-instructed disciple?

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