Adam is not dealing with just an animal that he had previously named; he is dealing with greater intelligence and an adversarial relationship. The serpent uses his abilities in sinister ways. This inventor of lies begins a conversation that will bring about an unimaginable disaster.
The story begins with God. As the universe begins, there is only one character because God is the ultimate cause and reality of all things. God created all things, therefore all things have their being in God. God did not create due to loneliness. God does not need anything. God exists in perfect unity, harmony, and community. He is one in being and three in subsistence, namely the Father, Son, and Spirit. God created and creation itself is an act of love and grace.
Jesus shared our life so that we might share his life in heaven. God declares from his throne that all things have been created anew, and all who are thirsty may come and drink deeply from the spring of the water of life.
The king bears a sharp sword that comes out of his mouth with which he will strike the nations and rule over them. He treads the winepress of God’s wrath and fury. He will crush and trample the wicked like grapes. This is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Prosperity can be as great a threat to God’s people as adversity in spite of the fact that it is usually overlooked as an imminent threat. This church received the most severe rebuke of Christ’s letters. He issues a scathing indictment of the church’s disgusting and sickening lukewarmness.
The church at Ephesus was doing many good things, but it suffered from a serious flaw. These good deeds did not excuse the fact that they had abandoned their first love. The people were not expressing love with the same intensity and passion at the beginning.
Having seen the seven golden lampstands, John saw Jesus as a remarkable human figure. He saw Jesus clothed in a robe reaching to His feet, having a golden sash. Like the Ancient of Days we read about in Daniel, this glorious figure with brilliant white hair. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His voice was like the roar of many waters and in his right hand he held seven stars.
John again underscores the importance of showing genuine love. Our love as an inclination finds its origin in the divine nature. The greatness of the divine love for us leaves us with an incentive to love one another. Our practice of love for one another provides evidence that God’s love for us has attained its goal.
James urges his readers to count it as joy in the face of trials. Believers are not to pretend that the sufferings of this life are not real and painful. James makes the point that joy can be found in the midst of suffering and that there is purpose in suffering will be over. Wisdom and understanding are needed and God will give generously to those who ask him.
The church is described as a living body, a building built on the foundation of Jesus, and as a select people. Peter was eager for God’s people to demonstrate distinctive, obedient behavior in order to convince critics of their faith. Since they are living as God’s people in a pagan world, they are called to live in such a way that the only thing they can be accused of is being honorable and doing good deeds.
In light of these truths, Paul seeks to persuade others, not by commending themselves, but because the love of Christ controls him. Christ died and was raised, and that changes everything. Paul does not see people the same way anymore. If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation because they have been reconciled to God through Christ who has also given them the ministry of reconciliation and made them his ambassadors and the secondary means of God's appeal.
Paul defines some of the characteristics of Christian love so that there will not be any confusion for the church at Corinth. Paul starts with the positive attributes and then explains what is antithetical to Christian love. It is important to understand that Christian love is not some sentimental and uncontrollable emotion.
There is a great deal of curiosity, and much speculation is made concerning the time of Christ's return. Paul tells the believers that his coming will be sudden and unexpected so they are to live with an urgent expectancy concerning his return. We are called to live unto Christ, and if we give ourselves to following Christ and obeying his commands, then we will be ready when he comes for his bride.
Timothy had been given a solid foundation in the Old Testament Scriptures, which he had received from his grandmother and his mother. These sacred writings made Timothy wise for salvation through faith in Jesus. The Bible has its origin in God, and it is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. This is the way that God equips his followers and moves them to maturity.
Timothy has already been advised to guard the deposit of truth and to be steadfast in preaching that truth in the face of any opposition he might be faced with in his ministry at Ephesus. Now, Paul urges him to pass on the truth of the gospel to the next generation. Paul is well aware that his end is drawing near, and he is considering the future as he writes to Timothy.
Paul affirms Timothy as a man of God and encourages him to look after his spiritual health. He urges him to strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. Paul tells Timothy that faith is a fight. We should remember that a life of faith is not delivered from struggle, a life of faith brings one into a life of struggle, a fight.
These verses are not just a set of instructions on how to identify and appoint new leaders. The church at Ephesus required a radical overhaul of the church’s leadership. Some men had wandered from the truth and led others astray which necessitated that they be replaced with men of integrity who could lead the church.
Creation exists for Christ. Every particle and molecule in the universe is held together by Jesus, and he has dominion over all things. He is the head of the church, and he exercises his authority by the Spirit and the word. Jesus is the greatest, supreme, foremost, best, finest, and most excellent over all things.
Paul has calls these readers to follow his example as he did on previous occasions in the book of Philippians. This call to practice what has been learned, received, heard, and seen is the essence of discipleship; follow me as I follow Christ. We are called to show the world what Jesus is like by the way that we live.
These words should render us speechless as a sense of awe and wonder envelops our hearts. Jesus did not insist upon what was rightfully his. Instead, he willingly laid aside his glory and took our humanity. Jesus never ceased to be God, but he took on our humanity becoming fully God and fully man at the same time.
Life in Christ is not some suspended state where the believer simply sits around and waits for the trip home while acquiring wealth and power. As Paul brings the letter to the Ephesians to its conclusion, he explains that war that rages in unseen places and we are involved in the conflict. Paul tells the Ephesians to be strong and stand.
Paul then juxtaposes the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh. Here one finds the beauty of the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer next to the destructive works of the flesh. This fruit is the result of a rooted abiding. This fruit is not perfect immediately, but it grows over time as we abide in Jesus.
Isn’t it interesting that when God chose to announce the birth of the Messiah to the world, he didn’t inform the wealthy political leaders of the day? Instead, God chose to tell shepherds that were tending their flocks nearby. It is likely that the sheep being tending were the ones that were used in temple sacrifices.
Mary, now pregnant, goes to visit Elizabeth and upon Mary's greeting her baby begins to leap within her as she is filled with the Holy Spirit and begins to prophesy over her. Elizabeth proclaims that the mother of her Lord has come to visit her. Mary's response is to praise the Lord.
The Gospel of John begins with words that repeat the opening words of the book of Genesis. The phrase, in the beginning, is not simply pointing out history, chronology or a timeline. No, John introduces us to the "Word" of God who is God and therefore he is eternal and was an active agent in creation of the cosmos.
The God of judgment was nearer than any of the skeptics imagined. Malachi stressed that the coming of God would be both sure and sudden. The words suggest something shocking and unexpected, but certain.
God was wearied of his people persisting in sin. God had demonstrated his faithfulness over and over, and yet his people were faithless. They walked in ongoing patterns of disobedience. Even the reminder of the covenant with the priests pointed to God's faithfulness. They even had the audacity to question God's justice.
Rather than continue to insult God with their tainted sacrifices, it would be better, Malachi argued, to shut down the temple because the sacrifices were no longer accomplishing their purpose. It was all formalism, and it was doing more harm than good. The devastating prospect was that God found no pleasure in his people.
Jealousy causes God to act by pouring out his wrath which results in judicial reparation. Make no mistake, God is patient and slow to anger. He is not capricious, arbitrary, nor impetuous in the exercise of his wrath. His wrath is thoroughly planned and carefully placed.
Jonah was terribly displeased that God would relent concerning the destruction of Nineveh. Jonah felt that the Ninevites deserved judgment, and evidently he had felt this anger for some time. He who praised the gracious mercy of God earlier now denounces it.