Are you developing “Itching ears” or Falling away from truth?
Jesus said that know the truth and the truth will set you free.(John 8:32)
Jesus is the truth! ( John14:6 – I am the way, the truth and the life, no man can come to the Father but by me.)
Today’s meditation is about knowing the truth. The word “know” used here is to establish a relationship. When we say that we know Jesus we are to stay in the truth. Jesus himself is the established truth of God. He is the Word of God.(John1:1-14) Walking with Jesus is walking in truth. If we say we walk in truth we obey his commandments and his teachings.
2 Timothy 4: 1-5In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Paul warned Timothy not to depart from truth and preach the truth. Timothy was instructed by Paul to correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction, for the equipping of the church to ensure that they will not turn away from truth.
Are you developing “itching ears” or falling away from truth? It’s hard to admit that we are having “itching ears”.
Here are the warnings:
1John 1:6- If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not live the truth.
1 Timothy 4:1-Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the later time some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, doctrines of demons.
2 Corinthians 4:4 in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God …
Modern-day Christians consciously or subconsciously affected by religious pluralism. It is an attitude or policy regarding the diversity of religious belief systems co- existing in society.
How are we affected with this in a democratic governance? People have the tendency to accept and tolerate different religious practices in co-existing in society. The infusion of other belief systems subconsciously accepting by their mind and integrate it with their belief system and then later it became part their belief system ruling their whole being.
God will not allow syncretism or combination of Christian beliefs and other religious beliefs. We cannot serve two masters all at the same time. Jesus Christ must me the center of our belief system no more no less. The Scripture is our standard. Those who profess to be Christian should not flow with the belief system of the unbelievers.
As Christian prayer warriors, we are called to pray faithfully and hear from the voice of God and what ever we may hear from God we deliver to the church to strengthen and protect them. Our calling required constant fellowship with Jesus Christ and continuous renewing of mind (Romans 12:1-2) through the Scripture to avoid itching ears or falling away from truth. We should ask for wisdom from the Spirit of God so that we can have the ability to resist the lies of the false religions, cults and occults. (James 1:5)
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His truth shine upon you ! Amen.
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ [a]doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and [b]sold their possessions and goods, and divided[c] them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added [d]to the church daily those who were being saved.
I believed that the Lord is leading us to go back to the old basic set up of the early church in the book of Acts where the Christians meet from house to house in small but intimate gatherings. Let me encourage you by taking you to the book of Acts and let us see the context of the “Church without a building” but with flesh and bones empowered by the Spirit of God.
What is the “church without a building” but with flesh and bones empowered by the Spirit of God?
The Greek word for Church is,
Ekklesia, being derived from the verb ek-kaleo, “to call out or forth,” has often been interpreted as an exclusive term, connecting its etymological meaning with the Biblical doctrine that Christians are those “called out of the world by God.
Ecclesia (or Ekklesia) in Christian theology means both: a particular body of faithful people, and the whole body of the faithful.
Another meaning of the word “Church” is derived from the Greek “Kryiakon” meaning “The Lord’s House”. This sounds plausible at first, but there is just one problem. The greek word “Kryiakon” is not used in the scriptures. The greek word “Ekklesia” is.
Activities of the early Church- Acts 2:42-47
They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship.
They remembered the Lord In the breaking of bread (communion)
They prayed for one another in faith.
Many wonders and miracles done through the apostles.
They have unity and charity helping one another.
Praising and worshipping God in one accord.
We can summarize these activities into three important ministries they have done:
The ministry of the Word – preaching and teaching with fellowship, Gospel preaching and discipleship were their priority to fulfilling the commandment of Jesus. Teaching with fellowship is “intimate” discipleship. Building up good characters of the disciples must follow the model how Jesus dealt with his disciples. The love and grace they received from Jesus, they pass it on to others.
The ministry of worship and prayers– they believed that God is all they need to have, to make all things be made possible, so they pursued the teaching of Jesus to please the Father in heaven in worship and prayer of supplication.
The ministry of the table service or food distribution. (Charity) – God have concerned to the poor, destitute orphans and widows. In the Jewish culture this is integral they remember that they have been delivered from poverty and slavery in Egypt. Remember the parable of the feast of Jesus and feeding of thousands. Redemption and restoration were emphasized lessons in showing charity to others. This should be visible in the Church of the past and in present time.
Later in the process of their growth, they set up leadership orders to maintain the growth of the Church, they recognized the gifts of the Holy Spirit to each one to strengthen and edify the believers.
Our present Community Churches today are busy bodies but lacking impact to the communities. You cannot even recognized their presence except the sign board labelling the church buildings.
Early Believers in the books of Acts are very much different from what we see today, They were simple and yet powerfully influential. This is something we should think about. Let us go back to basic but most important traits of Christianity.
We cannot separate charity and the church. Love and compassion must be the most visible fruit of our true identity as a Church.
We cannot also separate power to transform and the church. This is our calling. We preach and teach the Word of God along side with this- is our message to transform lives.
We cannot separate worship and prayer to the one and only true God. Everything will cease but worship and fellowship with the Living God will remain forever throughout eternity. This is the reason and purpose of our existence to become pleasure to our Creator.
Lastly, we cannot separate our identity with Christ. We are called Christians because we are like Christ, that should be our visible character more than anything else.
To grow in our intimate relationship with our Father God in heaven.
Jesus amazingly presented the God the Father in the story of the prodigal Son. In His different presentation of the Kingdom of God in His sermon, the story of the prodigal son stand out for its uniqueness, because Jesus introduced God the Father to the Jews and Gentiles (multitudes as the audience of Jesus in the sermon in the Mountain) as a very loving Father which in the mind set of the Jews was a vague idea for they knew God as Holy Righteous One. They cannot even utter the name of Yahweh the Holy God. There were some Gentiles and Hellenistic Jews in the crowds listening to Jesus, likewise did not understanding the concept that God is a loving Father.
Here is How God the Father is introduced in the story of the prodigal son. The father in the story depicts the God the Father and two sons – the prodigal son and the faithful son.
God the Father has the heart of understanding – verse 12
God the Father has the heart of forgiveness – verse 18
God the Father has the heart full of love – verse 20
God the Father has the heart full of grace and mercy (the true generosity is from the heart full of grace and mercy) verse 22-23
God the Father has the heart filled with righteous wisdom. verse 24, 31-32
God the Father has the heart that is faithful and Just. verse verse 31-32
The story of the prodigal Son is also the story of the faithful father. Believe Jesus the way He introduced the Loving God the Father because the one who introduced the Father is the God the Son himself. He knew God and Co-existed with God since before the beginning of time. He wanted us to experience the love of the faithful God the Father.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
What is the fulfillment of the law?
A fulfilled law is exhibited by an inward righteousness that exemplifies God’s character and loves others; this is righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.
Love vs Rituals
God is Love so he who abides in God, the love of God is in him and so if a person operates in love, he is fulfilling the law.
There are more Greek words for love, variants and possibly subcategories, a general summary considering these Ancient Greek concepts are as follows:
• Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē) means “love: esp. charity; the love of God for man and of man for a good God”. Agape is used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast. Agape is used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for his children. This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as “to will the good of another”.
• Éros (ἔρως érōs) means “love, mostly of the sexual passion”. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “intimate love”. Plato refined his own definition: Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Plato does not talk of physical attraction as a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, “without physical attraction”. In the Symposium, the most famous ancient work on the subject, Plato has Socrates argue that eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth, the ideal “Form” of youthful beauty that leads us humans to feel erotic desire – thus suggesting that even that sensually based love aspires to the non-corporeal, spiritual plane of existence; that is, finding its truth, just like finding any truth, leads to transcendence. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth through the means of eros.
• Philia (φιλία philía) means “affectionate regard, friendship”, usually “between equals”. It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle. In his best-known work on ethics, Nicomachean Ethics, philia is expressed variously as loyalty to friends (specifically, “brotherly love”), family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity. Furthermore, in the same text philos is also the root of philautia denoting self-love and arising from it, a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.
• Storge (στοργή storgē) means “love, affection” and “especially of parents and children”. It is the common or natural empathy, like that felt by parents for offspring. Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in “loving” the tyrant. This is also used when referencing the love for one’s country or a favorite sports team.
• Philautia (Greek: φιλαυτία, romanized: philautía) means “self love” to love yourself or “regard for one’s own happiness or advantage”[full citation needed] has both been conceptualized as a basic human necessity and as a moral flaw, akin to vanity and selfishness, synonymous with amour propre or egotism. The Greeks further divided this love into positive and negative: one, the unhealthy version is the self-obsessed love, and the other is the concept of “self-compassion”.
• Xenia (Greek: ξενία, romanized: xenía, meaning “guest-friendship”) is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guest-friendship. The rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host expressed in both material benefits (such as the giving of gifts to each party) as well as non-material ones (such as protection, shelter, favors, or certain normative rights).(wikipedia.org)
Verses to teach us How to love.
1 John 4:8
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 2:9-10
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
I Corinthians 13:4-5
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
1 Corinthians 16:14
“Do everything in love.”
1 John 4:7
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:9-11
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
1 John 4:18-19
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.”
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Let us learn from Peter this great lesson of love. The disciple who denied Jesus 3 times in a row.
This was the scene before Jesus was arrested. Look at the words of Jesus and Peter.
Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later” (John 13:36, ESV).
“Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times’” (John 13:37-38, ESV).
Later after Jesus have resurrected in John 21:15-17 Jesus confronted Peter to remove his guilty feeling and heal his heart because he denied Jesus.
“15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) me more than these?’ Peter said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love (philia) you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs’ (John 21:15, ESV).
“16He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) me?’ Peter said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love (philia) you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep’ (John 21:16, ESV).
“17Jesus said to Peter the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love (agape)me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love (agape) you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep’” (John 21:17, ESV).
Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus 3 times but the last answer was very pleasing to Jesus because He saw the agape love and sincerity of Peter.
When we first confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior, what are your love words and promises to Him?
Do you still remember them?
Go back to your “first love” for the Lord, means rekindle your “first love” for the Lord. (Revelation 2:4-5)
The Lord Jesus wanted you to give your (agape) love to Him.
Text: Psalm 95:1-2 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2/3:15 ; 1 Thess. 5:18
To give thanks to God with the grateful heart.
To give thanks to God as worship to Him.
The Word “Thanks” used 114 Times in the Bible. The Hebrew word for thanksgiving, as in English, The word is הוֹדָיָה listen and repeat. It comes from the root ה. ד. ה (h.d.h) meaning acknowledgment and thanks.
Why we give thanks to the Lord?
ACT of gratitude for His wonderful deeds and provisions we enjoy from His Grace and Mercy. Psalm 118/ Psalm 9:1/Psalm 26:6-7
ACT of worship for He is the Almighthy Father God the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Psalm 24/ Psalm 25
ACT of dependency on Him who is Worthy of Praise for His Lovingkindness and everlasting Love towards us. Psalm 136:1
Giving thanks is so much more than working up feelings of gratitude or saying “thank you” when someone does something nice for you. As we saw above, giving thanks is directly tied to your relationship with God.
ACT of testimony to the nations for His Salvation and Redemption Psalm 95:1-2/ Psalm 118:14
This is evident in the life of Abraham and His descendants and to nation of Israel . Apparently In Old Testament time and even up to the present time.
What may surprise you even more it is also evident in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ until the end of time.
How to express our Thanksgiving to God?
1. Sing unto the Lord, Sing praises unto Him . Psalm 96
2. Play music instruments like the Levites. 1 Chronicles 23
3. Make known His deeds amongst His people. Psalm 105:1
4. Serve the Lord with gladness.
From the “sinful woman” who put oil on Jesus’ head and poured perfume on his feet as an expression of her thankfulness (Luke 7:40–47) to Zacchaeus paying back fourfold from what he took from others (Luke 19:3–6), thankfulness and gratitude became a hallmark of their life.
How to Write a Short Psalm of Thanksgiving
1. Recognize God’s goodness.
2. Express gratitude in the moment.
3. Express surrender.
4. List your blessings.
5. Affirm God’s goodness
Why we should give thanks to God?
1. You never run dry with constant thanksgiving (Psalms 89:20-24)
2. When you thank God, you glorifieth His Name, Psalm 50:23.
3. Thanksgiving has the power to bring encouragement to the testifier and helps to build more confidence in God (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Paul said that It is God’s will for us to be thankful in Christ Jesus in all circumstances. ( 1 Thess 5:18). In the OT time, the Psalmist emphasized that thanksgiving is intertwined with giving praise. In the true sense of the word, we give thanks in praise as an expression of our love and gratitude to our Creator. It is highest reason for our calling, that is to become His pleasure.. (Revelation 4 :11) Sing “Thou art Worthy…” Amen .
“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him.”
“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.”
“How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.”
“O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”
“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in loving kindness to all who call upon You.”
“For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.”
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
“Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.”
“They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.”
“The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.”
1 Chronicles 16:34
“O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His loving kindness is everlasting.”
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
“Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.”
Is there a Bible references that will answer this question?
James 2:23, “And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”
Exodus 33:11The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
John 15:13-15Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
It is so interesting to know this great truth from the Scripture that it is possible to have intimacy with God. Believers are privileged to enjoy friendship with God.
When God called Abraham, He is God -Yahweh the Great I am but He is also the Friend of Abraham. In Genesis 18 we can see a scenario that Abraham had experienced the intimacy with God by revealing to Abraham the Judgement day for Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pleaded to God for the lives of the righteous men and for his nephew Lot and His family. No one found righteous in both cities and for Abraham sake God saved Lot and his daughters. His wife turned into salt because she cannot leave the sinfulness in Sodom and Gomorrah.
Moses experienced also intimacy with God. He was able to speak to God face to face as one speaks to a friend. No one can stand before the holiness of God but the Scripture told us that Moses was able to speak unto God intimately and rescued Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
Jesus offered the same intimacy to those who will obey His command. The disciples received the command of Jesus to continue the work that He did to preach the Kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit and so the disciples walked intimately with the Holy Spirit and spread the goodnews.
What require us to be intimate with God ?
Intimacy with God will start after reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. This is one among the many blessings of salvation that you will enjoy by faith.
To be intimate with God, this may require your life to surrender in His hands and your precious time to make yourself available doing the will of the Father. It is impossible to say that you have surrendered your life and have no time to obey God.
To be intimate with God, this may require your money. The Lord will bless your life for a purpose that you will become a channel of His blessings to other people where the Lord will take you to bless them.
To be intimate with God, this may require your gifts, talents and skills.
The Lord will empower you with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to minister to the needy by exercising these gifts for the Glory of God and so the people will know that there is God who loved them and that they need to know and serve God the same way as you serve Him.
Salvation is a free gift from God by the grace of God and must be received by faith. This saving grace of God will bring us to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our life. You will only understand the Lordship of Jesus when you grow intimately with your relationship with Him.
When the disciples introduced themselves to the people, they will say that they are servants of Jesus Christ. We can see that at the beginning of the epistles they wrote. They emphasized their servanthood to magnify the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives and at the same time, it is a pronouncement of intimacy with Jesus to the people of God to respect them as receivers of the revelations of God like the prophets of the Old Testament.
The believers grew in numbers as they continued in the teachings and revelations of the disciples of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:42-47)
Let me go back to the question I raised earlier. Is God your best friend?
How deep is your relationship with Jesus?
Can you introduce yourself as the servant of Jesus Christ like the disciples?
Lord Jesus, allow us to grow deeper with our relationship with you by knowing you intimately day by day that we may offer unto you the best offering of worship that you wanted to receive from us and that we may serve you with our whole being. Amen.