Better Than I Deserve

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Posted 10/25/14 at 10:04 AM | Jack Wellman

What Does 1 Timothy 5:18 Mean?

What exactly does this Bible verse mean and what can we take away from it?

Interpreting Scriptures

The best way to interpret difficult Scriptures is by finding similar verses or the original Scriptures where the verse or verses are quoted or in other words, interpret Scripture by using Scripture. When I read a verse that is hard to understand, I need to back up and read the entire chapter and sometimes the entire book to see what this verse is really saying in the full context. As has been said before, text taken out of context can create a pretext and a false one at that. Frequently, New Testament authors will quote Old Testament verses because that’s all the Scriptures they had at the time. One of Jesus’ favorite authors is Isaiah which He quoted frequently and Paul sometimes used Genesis but the point is that they always put the text into its proper context and that is something that Christians must be careful to do.

First Timothy 5:18 Meaning

First Timothy says “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 25:4 which also says “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain” which is part of the Old Testament laws which show that God expected Israel to treat animals in a humane way. If an animal is laboring for its owner, then it should be provided for like being fed and properly cared for but Paul was using it regarding church elders and in the context that the church should provide for its own church leadership. It is best to expand the entire context of 1st Timothy 5:18 to include 1st Timothy 5:17-18 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Clearly, Paul wasn’t talking about Timothy’s oxen or to the Christians in general to take care of their animals, although we know that this is morally right. Instead, Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 5:18 as a way of saying that since we are commanded to treat animals worthily and provide for their needs according to their labor, so too must the church provide for the church elders, like the pastor, and pay them for their labor. They are due a “double honor.” Paul is clear that he is speaking, not about the care of animals, but about the laborer for the Lord, like the pastorate, and that they are worthy of the church’s support. Paul is very specific about this, writing “especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” Was Paul writing this to Timothy because of the first century church complaints about paying church pastors and teachers? It must be at least considered a possibility because why else why would Paul have to even write about such a thing if it weren’t necessary? FULL POST

Posted 10/25/14 at 9:57 AM | Jack Wellman

How Does the Bible Describe Kids

How does the Bible describe children? What can parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and teachers learn from what the Bible teaches about children?

Gifts from God

Children are certainly a blessing and this agrees with what the Bible says about them like in Psalm 127:3-5 “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” Sons and of course daughters are from the Lord and, I love this, they are “a reward from him.” Like the arrows in the hands of a warrior, children are born and like arrows, they are held steady, directed, and aimed but where they land is up to the arrows (or the children). The implication is that we can teach them, direct them, lead them, hold or point them in the right direction but where they land is up to them but hopefully, in God’s sovereignty, they will find their purpose. When Esau met his brother Jacob and his family, he said “Who are these with you?" he asked. Jacob answered, "They are the children God has graciously given your servant" (Gen 33:5). Even Jacob got it…children are a gift from our heavenly Father and like a gift, we did nothing to deserve them or earn them…it is only because God is so good that He gives us our beloved children. FULL POST

Posted 9/18/14 at 2:21 PM | Jack Wellman

What is the Role of the Church?

Photo: Flickr/Jason Wohlford - Creative Commons

What is the role of the church for the believer and the family? What does the Bible teach the role of the church is?

The Church is…

The word church is from the Greek word “ekklesia” which means “an assembly” or literally the “called-out ones” so the church are those believers who God called and saved through repentance and faith in Christ. The word church is hardly mentioned at all until after the gospels but then it is frequently called by name (Rom 16:5; gal 1:1-2). Strictly speaking, the church is the Body of Christ, doing the work that the Head of the Church, Jesus, directs her to do for the purpose of glorifying God and part of that purpose is seeking those who are lost. By being called the Body of Christ, the church is to be the hands, mouth, and feet of Christ on earth. Each member has been gifted by God to perform a vital function in the church so that the church is edified, encouraged, and grows in grace and knowledge. Each member works in unison with other members for one another and each member’s function is to help the Body of Christ perform what she was created to do.

The Church’s Purpose FULL POST

Posted 9/17/14 at 8:16 AM | Jack Wellman

Church Attendance In America

Photo: Flickr/Jason Wohlford - Creative Commons

What is the trend for the church in America? If it is declining, then why are they leaving the church today?

Church Attendance Declines

There are many reasons that people are leaving churches in America. Part of the reason might be is that the number of Americans who believe that faith is losing influence in society is growing. In fact, 67% of American adults think religion, as a whole, is losing influence while only 27% think that there’s an increase in societal influence.1 The numbers from 2006 indicated that churches are averaging around 600 congregants with about 125 children in attendance on average. Singling out a medium state, Massachusetts, they had only 30% who attended church on a weekly basis. This number was half that a hundred years ago.

A report from a 2005 study published in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler revealed a precipitous decline in church attendance over the last 30 to 40 years. While the numbers recently indicated about 40% of the nation belonged to a church, in reality only 17% were consistent in attending each Sunday. The disparity is seen when the number of members verses the number of non-active members is compared with one another. Someone can claim to be a member of a church but that doesn’t mean that they attend regularly. Many of them only passed through church doors for Easter and Christmas services so this somewhat reconciles the difference between the claimed 40% who belonged to a church and the 17% that were actually in church weekly. That is as low as it has ever been since statistics have been recorded for the U.S. FULL POST

Posted 8/26/14 at 4:00 PM | Jack Wellman

What Will Heaven Be Like?

The Ascension, by Dosso Dossi, 16th century. Heaven is anywhere Jesus Is.

We use the word "its heaven" so much that it has lost much of its wonder. Think about this. Look at the news or read the headlines of the newspaper. What a dreadful sight indeed. There are wars and rumors of wars, there is terrorism, there are deadly diseases, earthquakes, floods, and droughts, however if we contemplate the future, we ought to think of our final destination. When we took a vacation to a ski resort in the Colorado Mountains one year we were thinking about it well ahead of our departure. We began to picture the ski slopes, the fresh snow, the clean, crisp mountain air, and the hot tubs at our resort.

This is not our final destination. Our temporary dwelling place in this life is but a vapor compared to what our eternal destiny holds. Vacations run out but eternal life in the presence of God will never end. The saying that "he's no earthly good because he's so heavenly minded" is so not true. I believe it should be "he's so earthly minded that he's no heavenly good." When we live with the end in mind, with the knowledge of our eventual home, it ought to make the present easier to live with. Romans 8:18 speaks about this coming glory as Paul described it: "For I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Here Paul is trying to encourage the Roman church, who had endured very severe persecution, to dwell on their eternal destiny. This time and place is not our home; we are pilgrims and we are all on a journey to an exceedingly better place. We are wanderers who are presently living in a foreign land. It’s like we are traveling to our vacation resort in Colorado but the trip is not the destination. We are but weary travelers in eager expectation of our arrival. We cannot yet see it, but we can imagine it. FULL POST

Posted 8/19/14 at 6:09 PM | Jack Wellman

How to Remain Patient: A Bible Study

How can believers remain patient when everything around them is going wrong, when people are treating you unfairly, and when no one else around you has any patience?

What is Patience?

The dictionary defines patience as: the ability or capacity to remain patient, the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, persevering in the face delay or provocation without acting upon it. This is like turning the other cheek which is what Jesus commanded His followers to do. Precisely, Jesus said in Matthew 5:39 “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Contrary to what people think, this is does not mean that we shouldn’t defend ourselves. This was not talking about physical violence but about being insulted. We are to turn the other cheek in the sense of not retaliating when we are insulted for Jesus’ sake. That is the context of verses 38-42 because He goes on to say “if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Clearly this is a command to go the extra mile for someone and not give “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Matt 5:38). We have read the world’s definition of patience but what is the biblical definition of patience? Is it different from the way the world defines it? Oh yes. FULL POST

Posted 8/18/14 at 5:49 PM | Jack Wellman

What Does the Bible Teach About Joy?

The Bible has a lot to say about joy. How can the believer find joy? Leave a comment and tell us how you think we might receive more joy.

What is Joy?

The Bible never promises the believer happiness but joy, now that’s a different story. The Greek word used for joy is “chara" which means “gladness” or “an occasion of joy” so it basically means what the word is translated from. In the Old Testament, the word used in Psalm 47:1 where the saints are told to “shout to God with cries of Joy” is the Hebrew word “rinnah” which literally means “a ringing cry, proclamation,” or “praise.” Another word usually translated into joy is found in Proverbs 10:28 where it says “The prospect of the righteous is joy” from which the Hebrew word for joy is different than rinnah. Here the Hebrew word “simchah” means “mirth, gladness,” or “pleasure.” Sadly, many believers don’t show this joy on their face. Too often they go around looking just like the world, but don’t we have every reason to be full of joy? Certainly the answer is yes; unfortunately we often depend upon feelings although human feelings are one of the shallowest, most undependable of all human emotions. Happiness is based upon happenings…and it is so fleeting and temporary. Happiness comes and goes like money. We cannot buy happiness any more than we can buy love but joy, that’s something completely different as we will discover. FULL POST

Posted 7/19/14 at 10:46 AM | Jack Wellman

What Did Jesus Teach About Marriage

What did Jesus teach about marriage? Did He forbid divorce under any circumstances or did He allow for exceptions? Here are some Bible verses about marriage from Jesus to see what He taught about marriage.
Marriage – A God-Ordained Institution

Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

There are many Bible verses about marriage but we are examining only those which Jesus taught about on the subject of marriage. First of all, marriage is a God-ordained, God-created institution that He blessed and saw as good. By God saying that “the two shall become one flesh” we could see this as intended to be a permanent situation where the two become one and stay as one and they become as “one flesh” meaning that they cannot (or at least should not) be separated (Matt 19:5). When Jesus quoted this verse He was establishing the fact that it was God’s intention to have the two be joined together and to stay together for life; the only exceptions would be for ongoing, unrepentant adultery or if one of the spouses would die. FULL POST

Posted 7/19/14 at 10:17 AM | Jack Wellman

5 People Close To Jesus During His Life On Earth

Who were among the closest five people to Jesus during His earthly ministry? Who would you think one of them were?

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

I am not ranking these from top to bottom or number one to five but surely, John was one of those who were five of the closest to Jesus. John, along with Peter was in the inner circle of Jesus’ closest associates among the list of 12 disciples. In the Gospel of John, the apostle referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). John was not bragging that Jesus loved him more than the others but in his gospel he didn’t want to call himself “John” or “John the Disciple” because that would seem self-serving and it is rare for an author to actually be in an account where he is one of the major players so I think it was actually a sign of humility by John. Even so, John was often reclining on the bosom of Jesus which is a strong indicator of a very close intimacy that never happened, that we know of, with the other disciples. Jesus trusted John so much that He gave over to him the responsibility of the care of his own mother, Mary (John 19:26). This made sense too because John was one of the younger disciples and would live long enough to care for Mary until she died. Also, if it had been Peter, Peter was going to be martyred and perhaps while Mary was still living so Jesus knowing that John would outlive all the other disciples thought John was the one to care for his mother. That also meant that Jesus knew John well enough to know that he would take excellent care of his mother. Church tradition holds that John lived into the A.D. 90’s and outlived all the other disciples who died for the Lord in horrendous manners and he also likely outlived Jesus’ mother, Mary. John was also allowed to witness the Transfiguration along with Peter and James, indicating that he was among a select, tight-knit group of Jesus Christ’s and one of the closest to Jesus during His earthly ministry (Luke 9:28-36). FULL POST

Posted 6/27/14 at 5:17 PM | Jack Wellman

5 of my Favorite Names of God

CimaDaCongeliano, Wikipedia free commons
God the Father

God has many names and they are descriptive of His attributes. What are my five favorite names of God? What are yours?

El SHADDIA - the Mighty God

Genesis 17:1 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.”

Here God uses for Himself the name EL Shaddia which is Hebrew for “almighty, most powerful.” I love using this name of God in prayer because as Abraham did when he encountered God Abraham “fell on his face” (Gen 17:3) so too I fall on my face when I pray to God. I believe that is the most reverential, respectful, and humble position to be in when we pray to God. We pray to a God that is Almighty and All-Powerful so why not fall before Him? In fact, I lay prostrate, that is flat on the ground when I pray to God as a way to acknowledge His greatness, His holiness, and His power. He is the Mighty God and so why would we ever doubt in asking Him for those things that we need and for those things that would glorify Jesus? God always loves to hear and answer our prayers, particularly when our prayers seek to glorify Him for He is so worthy of His glory. FULL POST

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