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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, July 27, 2018

Ephesians 5:21-23 (Lesson 27)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (5:21-23)                                                               (Lesson 27)

Welcome one and all to our study of our Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

In Chapter 5 Paul commanded and encouraged all true Believers to be “imitators of God as beloved children” (5:1).  Instead of walking hand-in-hand with this darkened world (5:16), the saints in Christ Jesus are to “walk in love, (with this goal) just as Christ also loved you” (5:2); they are to “walk as children of Light” (5:8); “walking not as unwise men (and women) but as wise” (5:15); making the most of your time (5:16a), and Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (5:20).

In this Paul is saying the true Believer’s life will not resemble their former life.  In response to all that God has done for them (5:2) they’re to walk carefully (5:15).  We’re to live our lives according to God’s expressed will, totally dependent on His Word and the Holy Spirit’s power demonstrating genuine love for one another (Romans 12:10).

Thank you for faithful attendance.

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Let’s begin where we left off last week.  Please open your Bible at Ephesians 5:21-23.

Ephesians 5

We find our Apostle Paul continuing to teach on the subject of the true Believer’s walk here introducing two additional commands from the risen Lord: 

and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (5:21). 

(And)

Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord (5:22).   

Paul immediately gives the reason for this godly conduct:  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body (5:23). 

Beginning at verse 5:21 where Paul said, “… and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ - the word “subject” in Koine Greek is Hupotasso (hoop-ot-as’-so), Verb, Strong’s Greek #5293.  The Greek military meaning of “subject” is “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a designated leader.  Its non-military use conveys the meaning of:  a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating with one another.

Taking this into account, we understand the word “subject” to mean: “to set something in place up under something else.”  Do you realize no matter who you are or where you presently stand with the Lord Jesus Christ, you submit to authority every single day.  Children submit to parental authority around the clock.  Adults submit to the laws of their state while driving to work and upon arriving at work they submit to the authority over them.  Every time you sign and remit your annual income taxes to both your state and the federal government, you are submitting to the proper authority.  You may not agree with how your tax dollars are being used or how the government is being managed, but this thinking has nothing to do with the other.  Your submission in each of these examples has to do with an ordered arrangement, under the command of a designated leader; and your voluntary attitude of cooperation is required. 

I had many designated “leaders” while serving in the military, some were competent, and others, not so much.  But in every case, when an order was issued, obedience (submission) was mandatory.  I did not possess the right to question any order; my duty was to carry it out to the best of my ability or face the consequences.  In some cases, failure to perform my responsibilities could result in the loss of life!

Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus was a revered and powerful man in Jesus’ day.  No human on earth was more powerful, when he spoke, the people obeyed, or else (Luke 2:1).  So, the Lord’s enemies attempted to trap Him into making a treasonous statement publicly:  They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for you are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.  Is it lawful to pay a poll tax to Caesar or not?” 

And Jesus (fully aware of the condition of their hearts) said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.  And they were amazed at Him” (Mark 12:17).

Jesus isn’t drawing a line between human government and God here.  He’s saying honor them both by giving what rightfully belongs to them.  Now, let’s marry this thought with what Paul wrote in Romans 13:1:  Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 

The Sovereign God and mighty Caesar did not answer to a higher authority.  Their authority is clearly one-directional, meaning it’s not reciprocal, i.e. shared authority and this is line with the Greek word Hupotasso.  Paul’s not talking about “mutual submission.”  Instead, be subject, as it’s used here means: an ordered relationship in which one person is over and another is under the other.   

Because Paul has commanded the churches to “be subject to one another” I rationalize the Believers were behaving poorly in this area.  If this wasn’t a corporate problem, there would be no need to issue this command.  Paul’s saying the body of Christ is to be subject (Hupotasso) to that person who has been given authority over them (Romans 8:7, 13:1; Ephesians 1:22, 5:24; Titus 3:1).  Said differently, those who are under the Spirit’s control are to be submissive to those who have been placed in authority over them. 

This thought intentionally leads us into 5:22-23.

God’s Design for the Family

I’ve heard it said, “God designed marriage, so He gets to define it.”  Therefore we’re to pay attention to what He has said re:  this topic and not Oprah.   

Ephesians 5:22-23

Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

The term “one another” (5:21) stands as the introductory phrase for this section of scripture.  But let’s be clear it isn’t referring to “mutual (reciprocal) submission,” as some people teach.  If this was true, Paul would have also written:  Husbands submit to your wives.”  We note that phrase is not found in scripture.  Therefore God has purposed hierarchical authority in the Believer’s household with these words:  Wives be subject to your own husbands (how), as to the Lord. 

That should tell you all you need to know.  The Lord commands and we obey, in love.  One day future all things will be summed up in Christ whether in heaven or on earth.  Jesus Christ will be the Lord of all (Romans 14:11; Ephesians 9-10; Philippians 2:10).  Nowhere in scripture does it say the Lord is subject to us. 

Now, it is human nature to find fault with Paul’s statement and people have resisted and spoken out against it since Paul dictated the command to his scribe, but always remember our Apostle Paul is the spokesperson for God’s one Church.
 
If you’ll spend some time studying the history of this period, you’ll learn women possessed few rights.  While the man’s responsibility was seen as public, women’s rights were restricted almost entirely within the home.  Women could not testify in court, which put them in the same category as Gentiles, minors, and deaf-mutes.  This also includes “undesirables” such as gamblers, the insane, and those who loaned money at exorbitant rates.  Customarily, a woman was not permitted to engage in commerce, and was rarely seen outside of the home.  If she was seen outdoors, she was heavily veiled and prohibited from conversing with men.  Study the Muslim countries and you’ll find women still have few rights.    

Enter the Lord Jesus Christ and our Apostle Paul.  Jesus Christ is considered a Revolutionary for many reasons.  He wasn’t afraid to challenge the accepted thinking of the day.  In fact, His teachings were considered “radical” by the Jewish religious leaders.  He included women in His ministry as did Paul.  Both took the women out of the shadows and brought them into the Light (Matthew 15:28; Luke 4:14-19; John 11:26-27; Acts 16, 17:17, 18:2; Romans 16:1-2, 6).  To be clear, Paul did more to advance the rights of women in the church than any other individual in history.  And yet both he and his writings are vilified by the very people he was assisting.   

To get a handle on this church teaching (the world has its own view) we need to go back to the beginning (the book of Genesis) where the LORD God established the marriage covenant between one man and one woman. 

I said covenant on purpose.  The Bible never mentions the term “marriage contract,” that’s man’s legal view of this religious ceremony.  If I’ve learned anything after two divorces and a couple of home sales that fell through, I’ve learned a good lawyer can nullify any contract, which means contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Looking to this book, we find there are many different covenants in the Bible; however, there are only two types of covenants conditional and unconditional.  Marriage is a good illustration of a covenant because a man and a woman choose to enter into the relationship and they make promises (vows) to one another and to God openly.    

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”  Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky.  He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.  But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.  Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

There’s a lot going on here, but I’m going to focus on three important things that are pertinent to our study. 

1) The woman here is called the man’s suitable helper.  In Hebrew (the language of the O.T.) the word helper, as used in Genesis 2:18, 20 is translated from the word Ezer (ay-zer) and it is always and only used in the O.T. in the context of vitally important and powerful acts of rescue and support.  In Genesis 18:4, Moses named one of his sons Eliezer, which in Hebrew means, “My God is my helper) – Eli = my God; ezer = helper.  Moses named his son Eliezer after the LORD God delivered him from Pharaoh’s sword. 

Now, let’s look at the qualifying word appearing before “helper,” and that’s the word “suitable.”  In Hebrew this word is Kenegdo.  This word is never used to describe a subordinate.  Most of the time when you see this word in the O.T. it is used of the LORD God in His role as rescuer, savior, and protector (Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7).  Thus, it conveys the meaning the woman was designed by the LORD to be the man’s equal partner.  There is no hint of her being subordinate to the man, although some people read it this way; and that would be incorrect (Genesis 2:7).  The truth is she was a full-partner in the marriage covenant.  She completed the man.    

2) The married couple is not to remain under their parents’ roof.  They are to leave their father and mother and cleave to one another, united as one, and then establish their own domicile.   Responsibility shifts from the parent’s to the newlyweds.  They are to make their own way, united, as one.  This was in keeping with the LORD God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 2:28). 

3) The woman was taken from the man’s “side-chamber.”  The man said, “She is the bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.  The marital bond between husband and wife is meant to be so strong; one could not leave the relationship without causing extensive damage to self and others.  If you’ve suffered the pain of divorce, then you know it’s destroyer of hopes and dreams and fractures family relationships.  These are a few reasons why “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16; 1 Peter 3:7).  Divorce is man’s way out of a jam, but God has said “No” to divorce except for one reason – infidelity. 

Thus Ephesians 5:21 to 6:9 give Believers practical examples of the Spirit-filled life we are to walk, in love.   Put another way, “This is truly where the rubber meets the highway of life.”  These three areas are where we have an opportunity to show the difference the Lord has made in our lives because almost everyone has to deal with one or more of these on a daily basis:  our marriage, our home, at our workplace.  Here Paul begins with the marriage relationship:  Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord we find the reason for this behavior in 5:23:  For the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savor of the body. 

Paul wrote similar commands to the other churches:
 
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3).

For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake (1 Corinthians 11:8-9).

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord (Colossians 3:18).

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.  And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (1 Timothy 2:13-14).

These verses are not difficult to understand, but it does require the Spirit-filled Believer to walk in accordance with God’s expressed will.  However, I’ve found this to be a problem in the Christian home; my own included.  My parent’s marriage ended in divorce.  This was heart-breaking and a bit more than disconcerting to the rest of the family.  In March of this year I suffered my second divorce, after 16 years of marriage.  She told me she still loved me; she just didn’t want to be married to me any longer…  One of the reasons she petitioned for divorce was this passage of scripture (5:22-23).  You have to understand my ex-wife had her beliefs (religious traditions) and these often contradicted with what God has actually said.  When I attempted to teach her the meaning of this verse, she told me I was trying to dominate her.  She also said this was my opinion; the Bible doesn’t actually say this.  She was obviously frustrated with marital life because she included my poor health as an additional reason.  However, our separate views regarding what God said and did not say placed a permanent wedge in our marriage relationship.  She placed her complete trust in her Baptist upbringing.  I informed her many times I don’t believe in “labels” I am merely a Believer of what God said.  Besides that, I was her 5th husband, so she had a history of leaving and not cleaving!  Clearly, my ex-wife had not been taught scripture, rightly divided, or accurately, and despite my best efforts, she continued to resist the truth. 

So, before we go any further, I point out there are certain political groups and people, in general, who disagree with these commands from Paul, which essentially mean they disagree with what God has plainly said.  In short, the vast majority of Christian homes today are not following along with God’s blueprint for success or His expressed will for the marital relationship.  Because of this I know many people reading this will disagree with what has been written here, but I point out I’m merely the messenger or your guide.      

The term “be subject” in 5:21 is equal to the term “be subject” found in 5:23.  Both these words in Koine Greek are Hupotasso.  Once again, this word does not mean “mutual submission;” it means a “one-directional” authority. 

For the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body – the Koine Greek word head is Kephale (kef-al-ay’), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #2776, and it means:  anything supreme, chief, or prominent.  Of persons:  master or lord; of a husband:  in relation to his wife.  Here Paul speaks of government (management) or God-given authority (Romans 13:1). 

The idea being expressed here is the husband, being the head of his wife speaks of a position of authority and responsibility.  It is not saying the husband is superior and the wife is merely a “step-n’-fetch” or inferior.  Our pride was undone at our conversion.  If not, you need to work on it.  The wife may possess abilities and skills that exceed her husband’s; however, we’re not talking about those attributes here we’re talking about order and God’s divine purpose.  

Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 11:3 come to mind:  But I want you to (what) understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.  This follows the order of creation, as Paul points out in 1Timothy 2:13:  For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.  It also follows the purpose of our creation for the woman was created to be the compliment of the man, and not vice versa.  Again, this is not how the world views this subject, and this explains why more than 50% of marriages, even Christian marriages, end in divorce. God said follow His blueprint for success and you’ll have a successful marriage. 

The Believer’s love for one another is fostered and will proceed to flow out of a marriage that displays the attributes described by Paul in Philippians 2:3-7:  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

God will hold those husbands accountable for how they choose to lead their wives and families in godliness, but it’s also true God will hold the wives accountable for how they followed their husbands godly lead (5:24).  

The Apostle Peter’s words stress this point more than Paul:  In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.  Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:1-4).

Bear in mind these apostles are not saying submission means zero limits.  First, your submission is to God and then your husbands.  You cannot submit to anything that contradicts God’s expressed will or His commandments, “…for we are to obey God rather than men.”   

You also do not have to suffer your husband’s abuse.  This is clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11:  But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not (what) leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

Divorce is not an option for a Believer.  I wish my ex-wife would have devoted more time to Bible study, perhaps then we would not be in this present situation.  I say this because I honestly don’t believe she’s aware of this comment from Paul:  …and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (5:33b). 

No one is perfect, we all have our failures and our successes in life, there are things we are good at, and there are things we struggle to achieve.  But the Bible doesn’t say your husband has to be perfect for their wives to respect them.  The only perfect Man was nailed to a Roman cross. 

People are rebellious in nature which explains why they disagree, outright, with the statement the woman was created for the man’s sake.  But, if you read the account in Genesis again, you’ll find the woman didn’t argue about her marital role, she walked in it.  So, when the true Believer puts God and His Word above all else, they demonstrate their spirit-filled walk to this God-hating world. 

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, July 20, 2018

Ephesians 5:18-20 (Lesson 26)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (5:20)                                                               (Lesson 26)

Welcome back to HBS where we’re presently studying our Apostle Paul’s warning to the Ephesians in 5:15:  “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men (and women) but as wise…

If you’ll consider this statement from the Bible’s perspective, Paul’s teaching us walking wisely involves first and foremost renewed thinking.  Before our salvation we willingly walked hand-in-hand with this darkened world (4:18, 5:16), i.e. in unbelief. 
  
I can’t speak for you, but before my conversion I didn’t think about God or the Bible much, if at all.  We covered the Ten Commandments in parochial school and from that I reasoned as long as I’m not out robbing banks, stealing from my neighbor, or killing people purposely I was not a bad person.  I added to that thinking all the good things I did and came away feeling pretty good about myself.  But here’s the thing, scripture calls this self-righteousness.  I was outside of Christ and blind to God’s truths (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  But a radical change in both my heart and my thinking took place at my conversion.  I was no longer dead in my trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1).  God’s grace made me alive together with Christ (2:4-5), raised me up with Him and seated me in the heavenly places (2:6-9).  I was also given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), when I was redeemed, which means I can now view things from Jesus Christ’s perspective.  Out with the old; in with the new man (Proverbs 1:24-35; Psalm 51:10; Romans 12:1-3; Ephesians 4:11-13). 

The fool says in his heart, there is no God (Psalm 14:1).  There is is italicized which means it was added to scripture by the Bible translators.  Remove these two words from the text and you’ll have the writers’ intended meaning.  Picture, if you will, an individual shaking his fists at the heavens, and God in particular, yelling, “No God!” 

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Wise people think before they act; fools (those who lack spiritual discernment) don’t – and even brag about their foolishness (Proverbs 13:16; Romans 1:32). 

In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul contrasts the unbeliever (the natural man) with the Believer. Having the mind of Christ is in stark contrast to the wisdom of man (2:5-6).  It involves wisdom from God, which was previously hidden (2:7), and it cannot be understood by those who are “outside of Christ” i.e. without the indwelt Holy Spirit (2:14).  When we have the mind of Christ, we are able to discern spiritual matters (2:15). 

Paul said all true Believers are given “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16; Isaiah 40:13).  No Believer was left out.  Besides meaning we are able to view our lives and this world through our Savior’s eyes, we also have His values and desires in mind.  We are dependent on God and His Word from this point onward, and the Holy Spirit our power source (2 Corinthians 3:17).  We share God’s perspective of compassion and sincere humility (Galatians 6:1-6, 9-10).   

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Please open your Bible at Ephesians 5:20:

…always giving thanks for all things in the name our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

These two verses explain the result of being filled with the Spirit of God.  To be filled with the Spirit means to be under His control with every aspect of our lives in obedience (submission) to Him.  It means to walk in dependence on the Holy Spirit.  The opposite of this is to carry out the “deeds of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). 

As we’ve already seen, the first result of being filled with the Spirit is “speaking to one another/ teaching one another” using “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” or God’s revealed truths to accomplish this, which is the second result.  The third result is the expression of thanksgiving for all things with a grateful heart, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God. 

Paul recently taught these folks about giving thanks in 5:3-4, in contrast to greed, immorality, impurity, and unwholesome talk.  He’s mentioning it again here.  Why?  He knows the human spirit is a complaining spirit.   

The Koine Greek word translated “complainer” is Goggusmos (gong-goos-mos’), Noun Masculine, Strong’s Greek #1112; and it literally means:  one who is discontented with their lot in life.  Complaining or grumbling hinders spiritual growth and is detrimental to the Believer’s joy, peace, and patience which are derived from the Holy Spirit.  In addition to being harmful to self, it makes our testimony to the world much more difficult (Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:23).  How many people out there are attracted to a chronic complainer?  Think about it. 

The very first complaint in scripture is found at Genesis 3:8-12.  The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.”  The man had willingly disobeyed God’s single commandment and now attempts to shift the blame to the woman and to the LORD.  From this we learn, among other things, grumbling is now part of the fallen, human nature. 

Jumping ahead in this book, quite a bit, we find the new nation of Israel being redeemed from their lives of slavery in Egypt because the LORD God intervened in their lives.  And yet, the people complained about this or that throughout their journey.
It was too hot or too cold, there was no water, no meat to eat, and this disappointing list goes on.  The LORD had them wander in the desert a total of 40 years and it wasn’t because He thought they needed the exercise.  You see, how God’s people respond to adversity and stress in their lives matters to the LORD.    

And there in the desert they all grumbled against Moses and Aaron (Exodus 16:2).

The nation of Israel’s grumbling in the wilderness was a persistent problem, it wasn’t an infrequent hindrance.   In the book of Exodus we see the LORD God interacting with His chosen people, leading them from one place to another in no particular hurry to reach the “promised land.”  There was a reason for this.  Clearly, the Israelites were “in training” undergoing a spiritual boot camp during this time, as the LORD led them by means of the pillar of cloud by day and He provided light at night with a pillar of fire.  God was attempting to teach these people a number of things.  Specifically, He wanted them to know they can trust Him to supply their needs.  Their greatest need was to know and understand Him, and submit to His will (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 13-14).   

Since this is the second time in this chapter Paul teaches the Ephesians to give thanks to God, obviously, he intends for them sit-up and take notice.  His words therefore are more than just good advice; they stand as a warning.  Even though this group of Believers was more spiritually mature than the folks in Corinth, Greece, evidently, grumbling was a problem that needed to be dealt with.  So, Paul writes hoping to end this sinful habit in their lives because it most definitely is hindering their daily walk.  Truth be told, complaining was a chronic problem then and it still hinders the Believer’s walk today. 

Here are examples of this teaching taken from Paul’s letters to Believers (the churches): 

…nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition (warning), upon which the ends of the ages have come (1 Corinthians 10:10-11).

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Do all things without complaining and disputing, (Philippians 2:14). 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

This verse shows us the flip-side of complaining it is giving thanks in all circumstances.  Why?  The person complaining forgets God and all He’s done for them even if it’s only momentarily.  Since God controls our circumstances, all our complaints about our circumstances are directed against God Himself.  God calls this sin.  This is why Paul gives these Believers a “heads up” warning here.  Instead of a complaining spirit they are to cultivate and nurture a thankful heart. 

We’re going to “Dig Deeper” on the subject of giving thanks from the Lord’s point of view because now we know it’s God’s will for us.  My mother came up with the idea of punishing our occasional use of “unkind words” or “swearing” with a teaching tool called the Swear Jar.  When we spoke anything unhealthy to one another, she would take a quarter away from our weekly allowance and place it in this jar.  There were times I received no allowance because of my momentary lapses of reason… this motivated me to think before I spoke.  This system would work for the complainer.  Keep a daily track of all the times you find yourself grousing and at day’s end donate $1.00 to the jar for each mark in your log.  Two things could result from this:  1) You’d have a fixed savings plan in place, or 2) you’re going to come face-to-face with your habitual sin and learn to check your speech (Ephesians 4:29).   The old saying, “It’s best to remain silent and be thought a fool (unable to discern spiritual truths), then to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt” applies here.   My mother used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” 

Giving thanks is the Koine Greek word Eucharisteo (yoo-khar-is-teh’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #2168, meaning:  to be grateful, to express gratitude. 

The Koine Greek word for always is Pantote (pan’-tot-eh), Adverb, re: time, Strong’s Greek #3842, so here it means to say:  our thanksgiving is to be continual; uninterrupted. 

The phrase, “for all things” shows the extent of our thanksgiving.  We’re not only to express thanksgiving to the Lord for our salvation, but also for our circumstances, the  ups as well as the  downs of life, which have been labeled “mountain-top experiences” and trials and tribulations. 

“For all things” here is the same “all things” in Ephesians 1:11, where Paul wrote: “God has predestined us “according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”  It is also the same “all things” found in Ephesians 1:22, that says, “God put all things in subjection under His (Christ’s) feet.” 

Did God leave anything out?  That would be “No.”  Once again, all means all.  There isn’t a different meaning implied here.  But the question “Does this mean we’re to be thankful for auto accidents, earthquakes, job losses, house fires, mudslides, murder, and mayhem?”  “Does this include a loved one passing away or when my child is very ill?”  “Are we truly to give thanks for all things?” 

There are many verses in the Bible that answer this question.  I’ve chosen a few that convey this truth in clear language, so there can be no confusion or misunderstanding.

The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD.  Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voice in praise to the LORD and sang, “He is good; His love endures forever.”  (We know the LORD God was pleased with their thanksgiving and praise because) Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud… (2 Chronicles 5:13).

Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place (2 Corinthians 2:14 - KJV).

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause (what) thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:15, 9-11).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in (what) every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and (what) your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit, singing to God with (what) gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:16-17).

In everything give thanks; for this is (what) God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1Thessalonians 5:18).

"Everything" is Pas (pas) in Koine Greek, Strong’s Greek #3956, and it means:  individually; each, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything.  It expresses the idea of being connected with everything that occurs in life, no matter what it is.  

Everything means everything just like all means all.  However, people have been known to say, “This doesn’t make sense.  It’s not possible to thank God for everything?"  To that I say you’re thinking like the old man and not walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). 

I’ll take you to one example of this truth in this book because it’s the reliable Word of God.  Please turn with me to Genesis 37:2-36.  Here we have my favorite O.T. character, Joseph, who from a young age believed the LORD God destined him for greatness.  In dreams, the LORD assured Joseph he would assume the role of leadership over his parents and his brothers one day (Genesis 37:5-11).  In those days, the eldest son was usually favored, however, here the younger son, Joseph “is the apple of Jacob’s eye.” 

From his brothers’ point of view, Joseph’s dreams were manifestations of the unfair privilege that he enjoyed as Jacob’s favorite son (Genesis 37:3-4).  This family dispute was brought to its head when Jacob gave Joseph a “coat of many colors” marking his status within the household.  This gift put a permanent wedge between Joseph and his brothers. 

Now some people say Joseph was a lazy braggart, lording his prominent position in the family over his brothers.  They go on to say this is why they rejected him and his dreams and plotted to do away with both.  I disagree, entirely.  This isn’t interpreting scripture its reading into it and there’s a mighty big difference.  There isn’t even a hint of Joseph bragging in the Bible.  In fact, the very opposite is the truth.  Joseph next to Jesus Christ may just be the greatest example of godly character and integrity in scripture. 

But, let’s not lose sight of why we’re here.  After initially plotting to murder him and hide the body, his evil brothers settled for selling him into captivity when they saw a caravan of traders bearing goods through Canaan to Egypt.  Upon arrival at their destination the traders sold Joseph to Potiphar, “the captain of the guard” who was an officer of Pharaoh in Egypt (Genesis 37:36, 39:1). 

Now, you’d think Joseph had hit “rock bottom.”  He had been rebuked, rejected, and sold into slavery by the very people he loved, but you’d be wrong in assuming this.  More trials lie ahead.  The Bible doesn’t say what Joseph’s responsibilities in Potiphar’s house were, but it does say his attitude and efforts were recognized by Potiphar and he was promoted to be his personal steward, i.e. “put in charge of all that he had” (Genesis 39:4).  
Time advances and we find Potiphar’s wife is sexually attracted to Joseph, but he refused her advances, demonstrating both his godly character and living up to the responsibility (trust) Potiphar held for him.  He we see Joseph was a God fearing man.  Joseph reminded her of these things and described the relationship she sought as “wickedness and sin” (Genesis 39:9).  By the way, he refused her sinful advances more than once.  She was relentless, evidently, so he sought to avoid any contact with her.  Then one day she “pounced” on him, but Joseph got away choosing to flee rather than submit to her sexual whims.  This, of course, enraged her and she wanted revenge.  She  lied to Potiphar saying Joseph tried to take advantage of her.  This news displeased him:  Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned (Genesis 39:19). 

Joseph was found and sent to jail.  Interestingly, and pertinent to our discussion, the Bible says, “But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer” (Genesis 39:21). 

One of the things we take away from this account is the LORD God did not forget about Joseph; He gave him favor; and continued to bless him in the midst of these trials (or tests).  By the way, most people fail to pick up on the fact that years have passed by; not merely a few months.  Joseph’s dreams came to fruition while in Egypt.  After interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, the ruler of Egypt said, “Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are.  You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you… I have set you over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:38-41). 

I suggest you continue reading this biblical story; however, for the sake of time I’m going to jump to the end.  In chapter 45, Joseph is reunited with his estranged brothers. When they were alone with him, “Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.”  And they came closer.  And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold (to the Midianite traders for 20 shekels of silver) into Egypt.  Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because (now read carefully) you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life; For the famine has been in the land these two years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.  God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.  Now, therefore, if was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and the lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:5-8).

Clearly, Joseph lived a God-dependent life, evidenced here by his faith and trust in the LORD.  He did not permit his momentary trials to get the better of him (2 Corinthians 4:17).  To be sincere, his pain and suffering were the keys to his meekness and his greatness, something he is known for to this very day, and because of this the LORD was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2). 

I’ve never met a person who did not recently experience one of life’s storms or who was in the midst of some painful, negative, thing.   But I’ve met few who understand true Believers are to have an attitude of thanksgiving always because you never know how God is going to use those painful trials to benefit you or someone else you may not know.  One of the spiritual principles we learn from this teaching is giving thanks to God in all things is one of the greatest acts of personal worship to God:

Job said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). 

Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name (Psalms 100:4).

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6)

In other words, thank You, God, when you give, and thank You when you take away.

The Spirit-filled Believer’s walk is characterized by their thankfulness, expressed in the name of Christ to the Father.  Such thanksgiving not only recognizes the existence of God, but His sovereign involvement in their life.  

Therefore, instead of complaining, give thanks and praise to God always, because “…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom he foreknew, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:28-29 - KJV).

(To be continued)

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