Jesus Is All You Need
We’ll spend the next few weeks on an overview of Colossians. The theme of Colossians is simple — Jesus is all you need. You don’t need Jesus, plus some other tradition.
The letter starts with a reminder of why we live the Christian life. 1.5 says, “Your faith and love continue because you know what is waiting for you in the heavens: the hope you’ve had since you first heard the true message about God’s grace.” This is very similar to 3.1, which says, “You were raised from death with Christ — so live for what is above, which is where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand.” Our hope is in Jesus, who came from above. Our faith and love continue because we know what’s waiting for us when the one who is in the heavens comes back for us.
1.9-11 promises that God will make us completely sure of what he wants. He will help us live the kind of lives that make him happy. He’ll help us to be productive and expand our knowledge of him. He’ll also give us strength with his own power so we can make it through difficult times. Our response should be happiness (1.12) and gratitude! By helping us live the right kind of life — thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice (1.14) — we’ll be able to get what he promised us, which is immortality and escape from earth’s corruption.
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What Kind Of “Man” (Or Woman) Are You? (Proverbs 28)
The proverbs in Proverbs 28 are still part of the collection of those transmitted during the reign of King Hezekiah well over 200 years after Solomon’s death. They are filled with warnings and instructions, many of them similes. In this chapter, Solomon speaks of various types of men both good and bad.
“A poor man” (3, 6, 11,15). The poor man is not always painted sympathetically, nor is he always approved by God. Solomon mentions the audacious poor man who oppresses other poor people as being a destructive rainstorm (3). But the poor man who walks in integrity is said to be better than the crooked-acting rich man (6). Solomon praises the one who looks after the poor (8). A poor man with understanding is wiser than a rich man wise in his own eyes (11). God condemns wicked rulers who trample over the poor (15). A stingy miser bequeaths poverty to his descendants (22). Giving to the poor does not impoverish a person, but the one who turns his eyes away from the poor is cursed (27).
“An evil man” (5). This man is also referred to as “wicked” (1,4,12,15, 28), a synonym of evil meaning one who is guilty of a crime and deserving punishment. This evil one is unpleasant and malignant in God’s eyes. In Proverbs 28:5, they are depicted as being as far from God as possible such that they do not understand justice. Keeping with that contrast, law-abiding people fight against the wicked (4). People avoid wicked rulers (12,28), and with good reason (15). Yet, the wicked are full of instability and insecurity (1). Even their prayer is an abomination to God (9).
“A rich man” (6,11). While the book of Proverbs makes clear, as does the rest of Scripture, that being rich is not inherently evil or wrong, that state of being often comes with caveats and warnings. Paul says, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9). Jesus taught, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mat. 19:24). He says it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mat. 19:23). In keeping with biblical teaching in other places, Solomon, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, speaks from experience. Wealth can easily be abused or misused. He can easily trust in himself (11). Several statements about the poor in this chapter show the danger to those who trust in their riches. As Solomon writes, “A stingy man hastens after wealth” (22) and “a greedy man stirs up strife” (25).
“A faithful man” (20). This man is literally one who is full of faith, steady, trustworthy, honest, and dependable. He is a blessed in his ways. He walks in integrity (18). They fear the Lord always (14). “The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding” (7). They are among the righteous (28). He is not exempt from wrongdoing, but he is faithful to confess and forsake it (13). If he is rebuked (23), he will respond wisely and appropriately.
Character is built thought by thought, decision by decision. It is not dramatic. While there may be defining moments that stand out, it is mostly subtle and gradual. Each one of us is becoming some kind of man or woman, moving in one direction or another. Jesus says it most dramatically, that we are traveling on one of two roads leading to one of two eternal destinies (Mat. 7:13-14). We are not what we wish, hope, or intend to be. We are the product of our choices. God wants us to consider carefully and be faithful (Rev. 2:10).
Light Of The World (Season 3, Episode 12)
People To Lean On In Times Of Loss
As many of you know, last month my grandfather passed away. The days following this, many people reached out to my family, to comfort us. I am so thankful that my family and I have so many people to lean on in times of loss.
In that time of ruin, I thought of our 2023 L2L theme, which was in Nehemiah 2:17-18. This verse reads, “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” This passage speaks about the importance of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and when you look deeper into this verse it also shows how we can strengthen each other.
First, we see that Nehemiah acknowledged the problem. He saw that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins and spoke up about it. Sometimes it’s easy to turn a blind eye to problems that don’t personally affect us. Sometimes we unintentionally cause a problem and don’t want to acknowledge how it may affect others. Nehemiah shows us how important it is to acknowledge an issue and make it our responsibility to fix it. Romans chapter 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We, too, must be willing to recognize issues, acknowledge problems and take steps to address them, because God will ultimately use those resolutions for His glory. In the days that followed my grandfather’s passing, I saw my family rise in the midst of our brokenness. When we build one another up with helping hands, as God commands us to do, we are showing others the heart of our savior, Jesus Christ. In this way, even in the face of intense hardship, we can give glory and praise to God through our actions.
Secondly, Nehemiah communicated a vision. He shared his message with the Israelites and told them what he believed needed to be done. He also spoke about the gracious hand of God, and the support he had received from the king. We must communicate our vision for the church, and know what is needed to accomplish God’s will. For some people, communication may be difficult. But Nehemiah shows us the importance of having a plan of action and encouraging others to join us in executing it. In the same way, we need to have the plan to expand the borders of the kingdom, the wisdom and guidance to rally others, and the love for our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage them to keep building. We must work together, utilizing our unique skills and talents to achieve our goals.
Lastly, God gave Nehemiah strength through joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “And do not be grieved, for the Joy of the Lord is your strength”. This isn’t the only occurrence in the bible that tells us of God’s ability and willingness to strengthen those who show their unwavering love and faith for Him. Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31 says, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” God’s people found joy and strength in building a wall day in and day out. I know for a fact that if I had to build a wall day after day I wouldn’t have that same joy. This strength was not from their bodies but from the power of God. Now if He can give that kind of strength, then I promise you, we can all build each other up, no matter how hard we have to work for it and no matter the circumstances.
Whether it’s supporting a grieving family, having a Bible study, or any other service we need to be prepared to build someone up and let God work in our daily lives. We have many opportunities to spread the Good News through our actions and our words.
I know that’s an area I can personally work harder in. I know there are going to be people in your life that you try to share the gospel with, but despite your efforts, they will completely reject all that God has to offer through Christ. It’s really hard to have the confidence to build someone up who doesn’t know God like we do and doesn’t want to know him. But like Nehemiah, we need to be confident, not in ourselves, but in our Savior.
“The Bible is an ocean whose depths cannot be plumbed by the plummet of human reason,” said English theologian Matthew Henry. Every time I read through the Bible as part of my daily Bible reading, I appreciate this observation. It never ceases to amaze me how something new emerges each time I reread the same Scriptures.
I’ve been noticing a group of men associated with David and Solomon that reappears when Joash takes the throne from the usurper Athaliah in the Book of 2 Kings: the Cherethites. Other groups, such as the Pelethites and the Gittites, were sometimes associated with the Cherethites. I’ll save those for another time.
Who are the Cherethites? Who you ask determines the answer. According to popular belief, the Cherethites were originally Cretan mercenaries. According to the English antiquarian C.R. Conder, this is of Byzantine origin. The Septuagint contributes to this misunderstanding by rendering Cherethite “Kretes or Kretoi.” It is understandable how someone could assume that they were Cretans. Indeed, a late-third-century commentator proposed this explanation as the origin of the Philistines. (Conder)
In reality, we must associate the Cherethites with the Philistines as uncovenanted people living in Canaan whom God would destroy alongside the Israelites when He led the latter into captivity (cf. Ezekiel 25.16; Zephaniah 2.5). However, reading Zephaniah’s prophecy makes it difficult to imagine the Cherethites as being anything but Phoenicians since God calls them “seacoast inhabitants.” As I previously stated, the Canaanites who lived along the coast were part of the Phoenician maritime empire.
But would Israel’s united monarchy or Judah’s kings associate with non-servile Canaanites? When on the run from Saul, David indeed surrounded himself with a motley crew (1 Samuel 22.1-2). Though there is no reason to believe that these 400 were Canaanites, we cannot rule out the possibility that there were Canaanites among this group of disenfranchised people.
We associate David with his valiant men, but many of them were not of Jacob’s ancestry. For example, consider Uriah, whom David assassinated (2 Samuel 11). Uriah was of Hittite origin. Although the heart of the Hittite Empire was in what is now Turkey, the presence of Hittites in Canaan during Abraham’s sojourn suggests that the Hittites colonized the region (Genesis 23.7–18).
According to Jewish sources, Cherethites were “specialized soldiers” in the king’s employ. It is clear from Joash’s account that they were the king’s bodyguards (2 Kings 11; called here Carites). In Midrash Tehillim, one “Rabbi Yivo” is quoted as saying about the Cherethites, “The Cherethites were those who cut off heads, and the Pelethites were those who performed extraordinary things in the court.” (Narbonne) This belief stems from the possibility that the Hebrew word for Cherethite may have originated from a Hebrew word that means “to cut off.” (See Strong’s numbers H3774 and H3772.) However, this only implies their role rather than addressing their identity.
In contrast to Conder, who thought that the Cherethites were a Semitic people (Conder), William Ewing felt that the Cherethites were a Philistine clan of possible Cretan, Phoenician, or Cillician origin. (Ewing) Given their association with the Philistines or Phoenicians, it is difficult to conclude that the Cherethites were Israelites. They must have been foreigners employed by the monarchy. Ewing states that it was the custom of ancient monarchs to have foreign mercenaries serve as their bodyguards.
It may seem odd for a king to choose foreign mercenaries over his own subjects, but it has certain advantages. Since mercenaries have fewer political or personal allegiances, they may be more dependable and trustworthy in situations like guarding the king or enforcing the law. This impartiality was likely the case with Joash, a young king God chose during a time of great danger. Joash could rely on the loyalty of his foreign mercenaries despite the threat of death from the usurper (2 Kings 11.4ff).
Scholars and theologians have debated the identity and origin of the Cherethites. Some believe they were Cretan mercenaries or Semitic people, while others suggest they were foreigners, possibly of Philistine, Phoenician, or Cillician origins. Regardless of their identity, they played a vital role in protecting the king during political instability and danger, as seen in Joash’s account. The Bible gives us a glimpse of its depth and complexity, encouraging us to explore its pages and gain new insights.
Conder, Claude. “Philistines in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online, edited by James Orr, 1939, www.internationalstandardbible.com/P/philistines.html.
Narbonne, editor. “Midrash Tehillim 3:3.” Midrash Tehillim 3:3, www.sefaria.org/Midrash_Tehillim.3.3?ven=Sefaria_Community_Translation&lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en. Accessed 11 May 2023.Ewing, William. “Cherethites – Meaning and Verses in Bible Encyclopedia.” biblestudytools.com, edited by James Orr, 1915, www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/cherethites.html.
We have an American flag in the front yard of our church building here at Scottsville. Sadly, I’ve noticed lately that is has been flying at half mast more often than not. It is a common practice to fly the flag at half mast after a tragedy occurs. Our world has always been filled with evil, but the method of acting on evil impulses has just changed over time. Why is the flag always at half mast? Because evil people continue to do what they have always done. Hurt others.
Despite our political differences, we should all be able to agree on these facts: Shooting up a school is evil. Taking an innocent life is the epitome of wickedness. And yet we get distracted by the politics of the situation and fail to see who is truly responsible. Satan has a firm grip on our world, and if we don’t do something to bring people out of his hold, bad things will continue to happen to good people.
We shouldn’t be surprised at the state of our country. We have removed God from every place, and a godless country will only ever be evil. If we truly want to fix the problems that are constantly happening, we need to start by bringing others to Christ. Parents need to raise their children in Christ and stop making excuses for bad behavior. Mankind is naturally inclined to wickedness. Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The further we move away from God, the closer we get to continual evil.
Our flag has been at half mast far too often. I’m tired of hearing about all the innocent lives that are lost due to wicked people. Let’s put the politics aside and start focusing on the real issue. People are obsessed with following their own desires (James 1:15), and Satan loves to cheer us on. Only evil people would do what has been done lately, so let’s start teaching the love of Christ to a lost and dying world. There’s only One who can remove our wickedness, and now more than ever we need to proclaim Him!
Resolving Our Differences
In Philippians 4, right before he confronts Euodia and Syntyche, Paul says, “My dear brothers and sisters, I love you and want to see you. You bring me joy and make me proud of you. Continue following the Lord as I have told you.”
Then verse two, “I strongly urge Euodia and I strongly urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the lord.” The word translated “urge” here is something called a petition verb. These were usually used for strong emphasis. There are two in the same sentence in 4.2, suggesting that Paul had been leading up to this the whole time. His examples of selflessness, humility, concern about others, willingness to sacrifice for the good of others, and his examples of other Christians who did what they were supposed to do, all led up to this straightforward conclusion. These two Christian women were evidently in an argument so severe that their salvation was in serious danger (2.12).
But he doesn’t just admonish these women and leave them in awkward silence. He asks a friend to help these women work out their issues because (4.3), “They worked hard with me in telling people the good news, together with Clement and others who worked with me. Their names are written in the book of life.” He wasn’t bullying these two women because of their issues — even as he corrected them, he made it clear that this was done out of genuine love and concern for their spiritual well-being. Because of their evangelistic mindset and excellent work ethic, their names were in God’s book of life.
Paul repeats 3.1 in 4.4 — “rejoice in the Lord always. I’ll say it again — rejoice.” These are also imperatives. How do we fix problems in our congregations? We focus on what we have in common. We serve God and we’re waiting impatiently for Jesus to come back. It’s a lot easier to resolve our differences when we’re united in our goals. We all want the same thing. We’re all equal in God’s eyes.
Philippians 4 has several more imperatives (5-9) — Make sure everyone sees that we’re gentle and kind. Don’t worry about anything. Ask God for everything you need and be content with what you have. Think about what is good and wholesome. Follow God’s teaching.
At the end of Philippians 4 is another familiar verse — “I can do anything with God’s help”. This verse is on a poster at our gym near the weight lifting area (as “Phillippians” ha), and many have this verse on a shirt or tattooed. While it’s certainly innocent and kinda funny, that’s not what Paul’s saying here. To avoid ending the letter on an unpleasant note, he spends time thanking Philippi for all of the ways they’ve helped him. He slipped in that he can be content with or without money, and he can be content with or without enough food. How? Because when it comes to working for God, he’ll make sure we have the strength we need to keep going.
Philippians 4.7 says, “Because you belong to Jesus, God’s peace will guard your hearts and minds. His peace is more profound than we’re capable of understanding.” No matter what happens to us, if we’re working for God we’ll be ok!
The Question Jar
I’ve got a jar on my desk and members of the Tompkinsville church of Christ have filled it with some very interesting questions! Here’s some of the latest for your enjoyment.
Q. Does God Change His Mind?
A. No, but He is merciful and at times His anger relents towards the sinful. When a sinner turns to God, He doesn’t change His mind but rather follows through with His predestined promise to save.
“God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough!”
– I Chron. 21.15
And he (Jonah) prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
– Jonah 4.2
See also Hebrews 13.8 to read more about God’s unchanging nature.
Q. When a young man is baptized, should he still be taught by a lady?
A. Check out the article “Baptized Boys And Bible Class” on this blog. It goes into greater detail, but here’s an excerpt.
“First, it misses who is included in 1 Timothy 2:12. The Greek word translated “man” is the verse specially means “man, husband, sir.” All males are not under consideration. The Greek has words for child, including “infant” or “half-grown child” (Mat. 2:21), “child,” “son” or “daughter” (Mat. 10:21), and “young man” (Mat. 17:18). None of those words is used in 1 Timothy 2:12. The Holy Spirit chose the specific word meaning “adult man.” Boys eleven or twelve are not men!”
Q. Was John the Baptizer the first to baptize others?
A. He was the first one mentioned to be baptizing in the N.T. (Matt. 3.4-5) but he wasn’t the first to perform or facilitate a baptism. This goes all the way back to the book of Leviticus where ritual cleansing was common. You can still find ancient Mikveh’s in Jerusalem today were Jews would purify themselves according to their practices. The concept of submersion wasn’t a cultural novelty— but its significance changed with the arrival of Jesus.
Q. 1 John speaks of a plurality of “anti-Christ’s,” does that mean they’re multiple and also the end of the world is near?
A. An “anti-christ” is simply one who is against Christ. While there seems to be an individual known as “The Man of Lawlessness” who will make an appearance in the last days, his identity is speculated.
“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” – 2 Thess. 2.3
This topic is still hotly debated within the church. Throughout the years many have pondered over who the individual(s) might be. Names like Hitler, Pol Pot, the catholic papacy, and even an abstract idea where the Man of Lawlessness is simply “evil personified.” A modern idea that seems to be gaining traction is that artificial intelligence could be the “man” referred to in 2 Thess. The author of this post isn’t entirely sold on any of these ideas.
Q. Did all the animals talk in the Garden of Eden?
A. It’s interesting to note that the text in Genesis doesn’t indicate that Eve was surprised or frightened by a speaking serpent. We know that the serpent was among the “wild animals” God had made and is described as “crafty” (Gen. 3.1). The word “crafty” doesn’t necessarily indicate that it was the only animal that had the ability to speak. While Martin Luther believed the serpent was possessed by Satan, Flavius Josephus seemed to believe that all animals could speak during this time.
“At that epoch all the creatures spoke a common tongue” (Jewish Antiquities, I .41).
We won’t know one way or the other on this side of eternity, it’s interesting to read about a conversation between a man and a donkey in Numbers 22.
Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said. – 22.28-30
Once again, if Balaam was taken back by his donkey’s sudden ability to speak, the text doesn’t record that reaction.
In 2018 a team at the Marineland Aquarium in Antibes, France, taught an orca whale named Wikie to speak. She was able to say the words “hello,” “good bye,” and “one, two, three.” Orcas and several species of birds have the vocal ability to speak the human tongue, so perhaps there’s some truth to Josephus’ claim.