Sometimes it is often so hard to tell the difference between the genuine article and the a fake. Though hopefully it is not hard to tell that these are fake snails, metal copies.) I know when watching the Antiques road show and they have a bit of furniture, that seems to be old they often end up either turning it upside down or taking out all the draws, so the expert can see how it is put together.
The construction of the joints often seems to be a key, or even what type of screws that has been used.
The same applies to religious leaders – Sadly sometimes they can be false teachers, often being driven by greed to get hold of your money. This is not a new thing, but one that has been around for thousands of years. The Apostle Peter talks about this in his letter of 2 Peter Chapter 2 which can be found here In this passgae Peter is very clear as to what will happen to such false teachers – God will destroy them. (He even mentioning Balaam famous for his speaking donkey). Peter goes into this in some detail including giving advice as to how to recognise false teachers –As listeners we are not to take what they say for granted, we are to question it and test it to make sure that it is the genuine article.
This chapter including more information on the donkey was the recent subject of our Bible studies and the notes can be found from these studies here
It has often been said to me that one of the ways to God is by looking for the god in you and developing that relationship through self discovery.
Well sadly I believe that such thoughts are wrong. I believe that there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus.
The idea of finding God through knowledge and self discovery is not a new one, but one that has been around for centuries. The Apostle Peter spoke about it in his second letter. Here Peter is putting the various qualities of life in sequential order >. Faith >> Goodness >> Knowledge etc.
Being a Christian is all about knowing God personally, it is not about having an academic knowledge of God. You can read more from the notes of our recent study on 2 Peter 1 here, where we found some of the key lessons from the chapter were: -
_ Well we come to 1 Peter 2 in our studies at the Kielder Bible Study Group, and this has parts in it that are very difficult passages, to get ones head round. In fact one of the commentaries I read said that this is one of the hardest passages in the Bible. Not that it is hard to understand but hard to carry out, as there is an apparent conflict between what Peter says here and what is said elsewhere in the New Testament. For example
Peter says there
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right ...and in verse
17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
I am aware that there is around 100 pages in the two concordances I am using on these few verses - one calls them the most difficult verses in the bible. There is the conflict between these verses and the apparent moral justification that we should "stand up for what is right" and obey Gods higher Authority. Especially if one then considers the next couple of verses taking the words slaves and masters to mean anyone under authority of a master be it the civil authorities or an employer..
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.
I have turned to a friend for his take on this and he says
“The question of Civil Authority in the NT is always a difficult one! The passages you quote are absolutely correct. I always turn to John Zeisler’s commentary on Romans,(SCM 1990), where he points out:-
1. Paul was opposed to anarchy, yes.
2. The Roman state at this stage was permitting Christians the freedom to preach.
3. Paul was trying to distance Christianity from the Jewish terrorists in Palestine. The Jewish Revolt was not far into the future, and seeds of unrest were sown already.
4. When the Emperor was persecuting Christians, as was the background in Revelation, the attitude of Christian writers has changed.
5. Paul expected Jesus to return any time soon, so resisting the state was not necessary; it would soon disappear anyway.
Peter Brooks points out neither Jesus, Paul or Peter advocated submissiveness. All three of them suffered (Crucifixion/imprisonment) because they would not obey the order to keep silent (Luke 19:40; Acts 4:18ff – CRUCIAL VERSES??)
Acts 4 -v18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
I think the key thing to remember is Matthew 22:35-38 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
And then everything else is in relation to this.
_ We are starting a new series of studies on the Letters of Peter in the New Testament at our Kielder Bible Study Group. One of the first things we considered was the who, what when and where questions about these letters.
_ Who wrote this - The author is Peter – the Apostle and former fisherman but letter was actually penned by Silas (1 Peter Ch 5 v12) his secretary
What – These were letters to encourage the readers to grow in faith trust and obedience of God. In them Peter also recognises that life is not easy as a Christian
When - It is assumed that Peter died under Nero's rule and therefore must have beenwritten before AD 68 when he ceased being Roman Emperor. Paul was in Rome AD 60 – AD 62 and does not mention Peter in his letters so it must have been after that. Late AD 62 seems to be the favourite date for 1 Peter and AD 63 for 2 Peter
Where - 1 Peter Ch 5 v 13 mentions Babylon. He probably does not mean Babylon in Mesopotamia, as it was a small obscure place and not mentioned in other literature but else where in the New Testament Babylon is taken to mean RomeTertullian writes in Ad 203 about Peter being in Rome
In these letters we will see that Peter has become a boldly confident and humbly self-effacing servant of Jesus. Also that he is a witness to what he himself describes as “a brand-new life, with everything to live for”.
As such the answer to the question mooted at the start must be yes. The detail of the study on the 1 Peter 1 can be found here
_ I always like it when driving around and seeing all the Christmas lights in peoples gardens and on their houses. We always try and put up several sets of lights around suitable parts of the house and on a tree that is handy. Maybe something for the next few days as have not had time to do this yet.
When we consider the original story of Christmas, the lights present we not of the electrical kind but those generated by angels. The details of the study can be found here and the main passages can be found in Luke
One of the amazing things we noted as a group was that the angels basic premise when talking to Mary is that Nothing is impossible with God. This is something that is a real challenge for us now, as much as it was a challenge for Zechariah.
When he was told that his wife was going to have a son, (who later became John the Baptist) even though they were past normal child bearing ages he became mute for around 10 months until the child was named. As he doubted what the angel said to him.
But when Zechariah spoke again at the naming of John he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to say these wonderful words (Luke 1 67-79)
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he'd do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.
And you, my child, "Prophet of the Highest,"
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God's Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.
So next time you see Christmas lights glinting in the sky just remember - “Nothing is impossible with God”
_ All we need to do is open up the paper this weekend and it is full of gloom and doom predictions about the future due to the Euro and banking crisis. The amazing thing is that a week ago the papers were full of predictions as well, and I wonder how many of them got it right as to what happened during the course of the week.
Making predictions about the future is something that lots of us love to do, but sadly so often we are wrong in what we think is going to happen. In our recent Home Group study we looked at some of the Prophecies that had been made prior to Jesus' birth about his birth, life and death. The amazing thing was that these predictions had not been made a few weeks, months or years before the event but hundreds of years before. Also they were not made by just one Prophet but by several – we looked at more than 10 made over a range of 300 years, and more than 400 years before the birth of Jesus. Quite mind blowing really.
The really good thing is that Paul reminds us that we can all be prophets in his book to the Corinthians if suitably inspired by the Holy Spirit. Here such prophecies come true.
So we finally come to the end of the Home Groups studies on Old Testament King David. Here David sets out who will succeed him (his son Solomon) and then it is detailed all the goods, and materials that have been collected together in preparation for the construction of the temple. The quantities of precious metals and jewels are truly mind blowing. If the physical temple building had not been destroyed a few hundred years later then it would have probably been one of the wonders of the world.
As it was the end of his reign we considered some of the highlights and low lights of David's life. It is strange how society changes it's views as to what is good not so good and bad over time. David is/was considered a great King even though he committed adultery and had the husband killed so he could marry the wife. I think we agreed at the group that his main strength was that he trusted God, and owned up when he made mistakes. He was honest with God
This study was really all about- what is our vision of God. How big is God? As the song goes “Our God is a great Big God”. - and yes He is. David shows how he thinks about God in 2 Samuel 22
If you believe God created this world then, God is bigger than the world he created. If you believe that God created this universe then surely the same must be true. But the big question is do we treat, (think about) God in this way. More on this can be found in the study notes here, which looks at the last few chapters of 2 Samuel and Psalm 103
As the study ended up reflecting- We need to take God as Lord seriously. In how we act, what we do and say. It is not a once a week Sunday activity, but an activity for everyday
How sad it is when members of a family fall out with each other, especially a father and son. It seems even worse when this results in civil war, but this is what happened to King David and his son Absalom, as we learnt in our latest study at the Kielder Bible Study Group.
The country is in such great upheaval that the royal family has to flee from the capital for their lives, and then there follows a massive battle between sides, as can be read in 2 Samuel 18
Sadly all does not go well with the usurper and he gets his hair caught in a tree as he is trying to flee. He comes to a very gruesome end which is described in detail in Samuel.
There then follows another rebellion which is detailed in 2 Samuel 20 which details the Sheba rebellion. He was a distant relative of Saul. He suggested that the nation split in two and the non Judah tribes attack David. Joab David’s commander deals with the situation ultimately getting the people who were sheltering Sheba to cut off his head and give it to Joab 2 Samuel 20 v22
So this ends the rebellions and David is reinstalled as King over the whole country.
This section of 2 Samuel chapters 12 -14, along with what we are looking at next time is an area of the Bible that is not often covered in detail in sermons. Previously I have read it a couple of times once when I read the whole Bible in a year and after that when I reread the whole Bible in historical order, but this time taking three years to do so. Both were quite a challenge.
The study we looked at linked here looks at what happens to David’s family as a result of his fling with Bathsheba. Evidently his Son Amnon thinks that going after a beautiful women is OK, except that this time he goes way too far and rapes his half sister. Her brother Absalom then rightly takes offence at this and kills Amnon his half brother. Meanwhile the impression given is that David just looked on not really knowing what to do when all this trouble and strife was happening in his family. Sadly Nathan's prophecy from 2 Samuel 12 is all coming true.
Eventually there is a sort of reconciliation between father and son in 2 Samuel 14 but this does not last long as will be seen in the next study.
The thing to remember is Paul’s words from Galatians 6 v7-8
Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.