The 12 DisciplesRead Now
Who were the Apostles and what is so important about them?
Why study them?
Each Apostle was unique with some sharing certain trades, some shared attitudes, some shared causes. But each one was transformed to live for the propagation of the Kingdom. Though not much is known about some we do have an idea how each one died according to writings and monuments. Catholicism assigned each one a symbol but Jesus gave us more. Through the Apostles, Jesus gave us knowledge on how a common person with common problems can be remade into an instrument to transform communities. Jesus took fishermen, Zionists, friends, siblings, servants, and money changers and gave them a new purpose.
There’s just something about Andrew The Apostle that really gets me excited for Christ. Andrew was a Disciple of John the Baptist who met Jesus along with John (the Beloved) who would be the first to begin following Him in the ministry. The reason Andrew is an exciting figure? Andrew is known for bringing people directly to Christ. Andrew was drawn to Jesus’ teachings and since John the Baptist was only a prophet, he sent Andrew to follow and learn from Jesus. Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus. He brought the young man with the bread and fish to Jesus. He along with Phillip, brought Greeks to meet Jesus and Jesus prophesied to them of the Word getting out to the world.
Andrew is the epitome of the Fisher of Men for the Glory of God.
When John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, something must have stirred deep within Andrews soul. You know that butterfly feeling we get when we are around someone we love. Andrew was compelled to learn from Him and stayed near just listening to Jesus’ Words. Thus, Andrew enjoyed precious moments of intimacy with Jesus.
Lesson One: Listen Close and Get Excited for the Lord
When we first met Jesus through someone telling us of him or by learning from our parents about our Savior, there was this mystery about who He is. Once digging deeper and learning more the excitement about wanting to be a part of Him and having Jesus in our hearts in order to tell others about Him just was so crazy good. Then we hear that still small voice inside welcoming us home. I know I shouted His name in praise and worship.
After this, Andrew invited Jesus to come to Galilee where his brother Simon Peter was taking care of the family business. He was skeptical about Jesus thinking Jesus was just another prophet that Andrew would follow for a while then would disappear. Boy was he wrong. Peter was so determined to test Jesus that he challenged Him. After Jesus showed Simon Peter that He knew where to fish, he gave in and dropped his nets to follow Jesus.
Lesson Two: Sometimes people need to see to believe (remember this one we may see it again)
Andrew brought Jesus to Simon Peter so that he may follow Him. We will suffer challenges in our time when people may not believe because they do not see the full results of Jesus in our lives and need proof. That is when we give them a Bible or pamphlet and ask the them to read something. Well, what they do not see is the private prayer that we speak for them to see Jesus work in their own lives. Of course the proof seekers may need additional things so an archaeological Bible may come in handy. The point is pray that they may see with their heart for the proof they need. Jesus will provide.
The third thing to look at involves Andrew and the Bread and Fishes. Jesus had a very large crowd listening and it was getting to be time to eat. What is said here highlights the realism of Andrew’s thought, as he was still learning who Jesus really is. The question in his mind was, "but what good is that for so many?", and recognized the insufficiency of his minimal resources. Jesus, however, knew how to make them sufficient for all those present. Jesus is basically letting Andrew and the Disciples know that He is enough and if they need physical food to survive, He will provide and bring more than what is sufficient.
Lesson Three: Trust Jesus that when you think you just don’t have enough to survive, He will provide you with what you need.
Ever have that time where you just could not provide for your family. You know, that Thanksgiving where you couldn’t afford to give your family a decent meal. You pray and next thing you know, Jesus provides through friends and neighbors. That happened to us. PRAYER WORKS. Jesus provides for the humble faithful servants even when you begin to doubt.
Andrew’s purpose was to bring people to Christ and move others to follow Him. He was not part of the “inner circle” but brought the ones who would be to Him. Andrew will always be remembered as the first called by Christ.
Pope Benedict said that Andrew will be remembered as the Apostle to the Greeks especially after the Pentecost. You could say that he was the first Apostle to truly take the Word to those who were called Gentile.
JAMES SON OF ZEBEDEE
James, Son of Zebedee, was the elder brother of John and called Son of Thunder. He was zealous for Christ and did not mince words and actions when it came to the life of Jesus and the Faith that developed within. There is not much known about him except that he was part of the inner circle with John and Peter and that he died by the sword 17 years after Christ being the second martyr (first being Stephen whose death was called for by Saul).
Being the elder brother of the one whom Jesus loved one has to wonder if He shared the same love for the elder brother. According to scholars of the past century, it is possible that because of James’ temper and zeal, Jesus may have showered extra compassion for him so that he would learn compassion and love for all men and not just Jews.
We would find out later in the Acts of the Apostles that this is true. But there remains an issue. Since there were three men named James who were close to Christ, one being step brother to Him, some of the historical accuracy was lost in literature. What we do know can be broken down into many lessons but these three life lessons stick out.
Lesson One: We, as Christians, must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ, even our own life.
As is said many times in Scripture, Jesus desires our full devotion. “Because He once loved us” remains true today as it did when He made that one time sacrifice. That by the way is the once talked about in that saying. It is not, as some say, that He loved us one time in our lives then forgot, not by any means. God’s love is eternal and our sacrifice for Him is our full devotion to everything in His name even to our death.
Lesson Two: Change due to faith in Christ Jesus is inevitable and necessary.
To know and love Christ is to attempt to emulate Him in all things we do. For some people this means a major change in our lives. This means asking (not begging) for forgiveness for past mistakes. Making amends with those who persecute us even if they were the ones who wronged us. Showing care and compassion rather than hate, bigotry, and disgust because of simple differences is the way we should be living. We must learn to love unconditionally as Jesus loves us.
Lesson Three: Riches and fame carry no importance, strength in faith and willingness to give silently of the self are qualities God desires of us.
There are some who want to written in the annals of history as great men and women but they believe that riches and fame is the way to accomplish this. They flaunt their riches and attain control through the greedy desires of others. Some gain fame through being a preacher of the word some want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Some do not give without making it known (flaunting their “helping others”) and do not even mention God. The silent anonymous giver, the person who serves without desire for compensation, the searcher for souls who gives all glory to the Father and takes not for the self. That is who we should be.
James learned this through being directly associated with Christ. He learned this through watching Christ and learning from His mistakes of attitude towards others, even his own kin. James the Great (Older one of the two) would die by the sword speaking the Truth in Christ. Never regretting the day he left his father’s nets in the Sea of Galilee, sacrificing everything for the Glory of God.
Scripture does not tell us much about Bartholomew/Nathanael. Most of the information comes from traditions or extra biblical texts. What we do know is that was from Cana in Galilee and that he was sent to Armenia and maybe India. His first name was Nathanael and Jesus spoke of him as a man with “no guile” (John 1:47). Some scholars even say that he was the only Disciple who is of royal lineage as a son of Absalom, a son of David.
Bartholomew was introduced to Christ by his close friend Philip and Jesus told Bartholomew that He knew him before their meeting when Jesus said “When thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee” (John 1:48-50). When Jesus sent people out He sent them together.
Being of no guile means that Bartholomew was a man of integrity even though he had some prejudices especially with Jesus coming from Nazareth and the fact they both come from David’s line. But Jesus found him trustworthy, transparent, and very studious when it came to scriptural knowledge.
So the young Bartholomew had some lessons to learn in the transformation from Jew to Christian but for him it was easy because of his knowledge.
What can we learn from this young man?
Lesson One: Stay in Scripture and learn with a renewal of spirit daily. Don’t just read two chapters OT and a chapter NT and say that you are good, that doesn’t work. Pick a section to concentrate and meditate on. Take the time to read, Pray, reread in prayer, and Listen.
Lesson Two: Our personal prejudices can skew our judgment. By being open to God's word, we come to know the truth. Do not change His Word to match your beliefs, change your beliefs to match His Word. God's Word is eternal, our mortal experiences are temporary.
Lesson Three: Be a Christian of Integrity. The Value and Character of a Christian should emulate Christian ways as well as some Jewish ways as that is where we have received our systems. We are made in the Image of God meaning His Values, Character, which is turned to our Mindset, Ethics and Morals.
Lesson Four: Recognize that God is Omniscient. God knows all and sees all things. It is God who really has ultimate control over us and not ourselves. Once we can give all to God, surrendering our whole selves 100% to Him and continue in His ways we will be a part of His great inheritance which is us living with Him in His Kingdom. Remember: We are not our own.
Like most of the Disciples, Bartholomew abandoned Jesus when He was captured and crucified. He was very outspoken still and yet maintained only a portion of his prejudices as Jesus worked on him with that. He was the youngest of the Disciples and sometimes the most outspoken. Bartholomew was known to be very intellectual for his age in the reading and understanding of Scripture. He was a good man who died being flayed alive in India while a missionary there.
Side note: While doing my research I have noticed one major factor of similarity here. All the Disciples who fled from Jesus died a martyr’s death. John is the only one who was there of the Twelve and the only one to die of natural causes. Things that make you go Hmmm. Stay faithful, live longer?????
John is the Apostle that did not become a martyr. He died from old age after exile in Patmos. I know this is a strange way to start this but it is a very important point because Jesus chose him to care for His mother Mary. Thinking on this more, since Jesus is God Incarnate then He would have known John’s devotion and finally his fate making him the perfect one to entrust His mother’s well-being.
John was younger brother to James (whom some confuse as brother to Jesus) the sons of Zebedee, and was the third to follow Jesus. Tradition places John as a cousin to Jesus through his mother Salome being a possible sister of Mary but we do not have concrete evidence. This may be why he and James were part of the “Inner Circle” along with Peter.
His name means, “The Lord is Gracious”, which actually is far from the truth of him until John’s later years. John was an aggressive young man, passionate, zealous, and personally ambitious which explains why Jesus called him and James, “Sons of Thunder”. These attitudes would make for great lessons in faith and changing outlooks on life in Christ. He is the prime example of what can happen if we allow Christ to remake us in His image, while His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
John was the spiritual one of the group. He did not question the fact of the truth in the Resurrection and was the first to notice Jesus along the sea side. John would later have a vision in the Spirit that would take him deep into the realm of present/future events so that he could forewarn all of us through his Revelation. He understood the fact that Jesus is eternal. He was there in the beginning as the Word through which the world was created, and will be there at the end of all things.
John lived for a full century and it is said he died in Ephesus. He continually talked about tolerance and love. Considering his youth, John learned that intolerance was not a characteristic that Jesus would have us continue and that the greatest thing is love.
Some Christians believe that John never died. This is false as his death and burial are recorded in historical records. He died knowing the Kingdom had arrived and grows in the hearts of the faithful.
JAMES THE LESS
As much as I would love to write volumes on one they called less, I cannot. This is mainly because there is honestly not a lot written of this young man except that he was brother to either Jude (Thaddeus) or Matthew.
James the Less (I will just say James from here on) must have done something in Jesus’ eyes for him to be chosen as one of the twelve but not all great and revered men such as James had to be remembered as doing great deeds, he was chosen and that should be enough. It is said that a man does not need to do great things for him to be remembered.
Sometimes the greatest thing in one’s life is just being there.
How many of us just sit by a lonely person holding a hand or laying a hand on a shoulder and that be enough for that person to know that someone cares. So if there is one lesson we can learn:
1. Just being there as a Christian when another just needs someone who cares IS ENOUGH.
A Chaplain’s job is just that. The stranger’s shoulder, the short but kind words, the presence of a faithful believer. But one does not have to have the title to do that. Giving that last dollar so someone can get a morsel to eat. Taking food or clothing to one who is need. Sharing the Gospel with someone who cannot read it or understand it for themselves. Building that home and just knowing that it will be supporting those less fortunate. That is being there for another.
2. Being a Silent Witness is not the best thing but sometimes the only thing we can do.
When a person sees your actions and just wants to talk, we become the ear for Christ. Hearing and listening to the pain and suffering and knowing when it is the right time to say something is a great characteristic that not all Christians are born with but God enables us to be the listener and guide to the right person. Knowing that you brought the person to one who can help in whatever capacity is needed.
James the Less, the silent Apostle who did nothing spectacular but is still seated at the table with Jesus because he followed, listened, shared, and loved.
We can learn a lot from Apostle Peter and I am not talking about Peter whom the Catholics venerated as the First Pope when he did not desire that. I am talking about Peter the Rock (Cephas), Peter the Fisherman, Peter the Disciple who questioned His Master, Peter who thought he could walk on water himself, Peter the Declarer, Peter the Denier, Peter the Forgiven, Peter the Valiant, and Peter the Man of God.
Peter was a simple fisherman whose life was turned upside down when Jesus came into his life. He was a gruff man who paid little heed to others and was more concerned with caring for his family than worship having no time for “frivolous activities”. This sounds like some people we know today doesn’t it? Maybe even it was our own lives.
Think of that moment that we read about of when Peter met Jesus for the first time. His brother told him about Jesus and still wanted nothing to do with him until that day when very few if no fish were being netted up. Jesus directed Peter to a place on the lake and told him to drop the nets there. Lo and behold, there were so many in the net it nearly toppled the boat.
Lesson One: Listen to the Father because He truly does know best.
Peter was a bit hesitant and did not believe what Jesus was telling him to do at first. When He finally gave in and did what Jesus asked. The result, he fed the community for a week from the haul. God guides us to do the right thing when we listen. There is no entitlement here. He desires us to listen and learn from the actions we do that follow His direction to us. If we do not listen, there is a good chance we will fail only to be picked up once we learn from our mistakes.
Then there was the moment that Peter walked on water when Jesus commanded him. Well, Peter got distracted by the world (the wind and rolling water) causing him to fall into the water. Jesus was there to lift him up and save him from drowning. Jesus exclaims, “Ye of little faith”.
Lesson Two: Keep your focus on the spiritual and not so much in the world, if you fall Jesus is still there, you just have to look.
Peter was distracted by the world around him and lost focus on what mattered most. As difficult as it is in this day and age, our focus should on Jesus. He is the one who saves us, His is the world beyond this one and we cannot take the current world with us. When we begin to rely on worldly things we change our faith and trust. Keeping our eyes on Jesus places Him deep within us so we won’t lose ourselves to sin.
When Jesus told the Disciples that He must go into Jerusalem and Peter basically told Jesus it was a bad idea and Jesus berated him. What was Peter thinking?
Lesson Three: You cannot stand in the way of God’s Plan
God’s Plan is just that, His. Even with our free will we do not have a say in God’s Ultimate Plan for us. When God directs, go His way. If He calls, answer. I learned the hard way in my youth not to go against God’s Plan but after much soul searching and opening my ears and heart (and many bumps in the road) I broke down and listened closer than ever before. I have been faithful and He has blessed.
Peter was called Cephas because of the truth he spoke about Jesus, not because Peter was to be the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus brother James was the first pastor/priest of the Jerusalem Church of the "Way" which is what the people named that sect of Messianic Jews.
A wealthy tax collector of Capharnaum (Capernaum) also known as Levi was a public servant and possible brother of James the Less as both were sons of Alphaeus. He was hated by the Jews because he collected taxes for Rome while also pocketing some for his family.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Matthew 9:9 (ESV)
14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Mark 2:14 (ESV)
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. Luke 5:27-28 (ESV)
He left the tax booth without hesitation. Remember the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon”. Think of the impact on the sinner’s life where Matthew was trying to be a good Jew but at the same time held captive by the need to support his family no matter what. He compromised his principles of godly living to live richly in the world.
Matthew's names mean "a gift of God." Why Jesus would have taken this particular tax collector is not known but as the stories continue we see the transformation of a greedy tax collector turn into one of the first Apologists for Christ.
Since Matthew could write, as he was a publican (civil servant) for Rome, it seems planned that he would be the writer of the first gospel. His writing of the life and teachings of Jesus was brought to the Sanhedrin in his (and Christianity’s) defense. It is his message that would reverberate through the ages. How this man was reformed and blessed through living and learning with Christ is definitely a God thing. But it proves that God has an ultimate plan and can change the lives of whom He chooses to make the Word known.
So what can we learn from Matthew’s life?
1. Even the greediest person can be reformed and become a believer. Here we can use the analogy of a Scrooge-like person. All Jesus had to do was come into Matthew’s life. Today it is a little bit harder and may take drastic measures to humble the greedy, but if God ordains it, He will make a way for it to come to pass.
2. Defending the Gospel is a life-long effort. Through heartache, pain, and suffering, Matthew served God and shred the Gospel even and the point of death. We must not fear those who we are serving and sharing the Gospel with because that is our commission in life.
After the Pentecost and dealing with the Sanhedrin, Matthew preached in Ethiopia where he died a martyr's death by beheading.
Jude or Thaddeus
Jude, Thaddeus, or Lebbeus, a “man with three names” as he was called by Jerome. Here we have another Nationalist who would be transformed into a warrior for Christ.
The New Testament states that he asked Jesus at the Last Supper, "But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? (John 14:22 NIV) “Judas Thaddeus was interested in making Christ known to all nations as an earthly king, not as Servant Savior.
1. To share Jesus with the world you must know Him personally yourself.
Jesus came to redeem those who truly believe in God from the sins of the world. He desires a personal relationship with us in order to share His Word with the rest of the world. With this relationship there will be trials and temptations because the Adversary is constantly trying to get us away from salvation.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.Revelation 3:20
The Psalms gives us this tidbit about God’s knowledge of us:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139: 1-6)
We are incapable of knowing God as well as He knows us so He sent Jesus to relate with us in human form. The Disciples saw Him, knew Him as a brother, followed Him, and became as close as humanly possible like Him. To have a personal relationship with our redeemer is to believe in Him, Trust Him, Love Him as He loves us.
2. Release your heart from the knowledge of the world and Live for Christ.
One of the hardest things for a person who is deep in the ways of the world, is to give it up. That means not being transformed or molded into believing that certain ways of worldly living are the best and only way to get along in the world. It means not to be so concentrated on worldly idealisms while trying to keep friends and family who cannot escape the world that you get caught up in their sins and transgressions. Releasing yourself from the world does not mean you cannot live in the world without knowing what is going on. We have to know the Adversary and be able to recognize when he is tempting the world with false idols and idealism's which lead us to the path of death.
Give up control of the things you cannot and you will do well. Let God have control of the situations in your life while going about your daily business. Keep God’s Word on your heart and in your mind so that your very soul sings praises to His name and you know the right way of living. These are just some of the ways to release your heart from the world.
Simon was not from Canaan but Galilee, he is also called Zealot. The word used to describe this Simon was actually a derivative of the Hebrew word, Kana which means, “To be ardent or zealous”. This Simon was a champion for the Judean cause, a fanatical Nationalist who hoped that the Messiah would bring war to Rome. Zealots were reckless and had disregard for the suffering involved in the struggle for independence from Rome and the desire for purity of faith.
Simon Zelotes was devoted to the Law and the prophets and would not hesitate to kill or be killed for the faith. He was literally a man filled with hatred for anything non-Jewish especially those who compromised and were loyal to Rome. His was a story of the social conditions of the time, a rebel with a religious cause. The Zealots can trace their origins to the Maccabean Revolt who wanted the land restored to the old theocracy with a strict understanding of the Mosaic Law. So why did Jesus have Simon on board as one of the twelve? One can assume it was to help change the outlook of people who wanted change through violence. Sounds familiar with today’s circumstance, doesn’t it.
Simon’s zeal would change when he followed Christ but it was not instantaneous. One can guess that Simon heard Jesus and when He would speak of the Kingdom, Simon jumped right in thinking that this would be the warrior king they were waiting for. Boy was he a little early on that one. Simon exchanged his worldly weapons for those of a more spiritual nature but the willingness to face danger or death for the cause would make him one of the boldest and strongest Disciples of Christ.
While doing my research I need to point out that when we view the twelve Disciples as one unit, we can understand that there is formed a practical exposition of the function of the church, the only qualification to enter in the fellowship is the ability to consent to the appeal of Christ and to be obedient to the requirement of self-surrender. So Simon’s passion was not eradicated, it was enhanced, and redirected towards the greater Spiritual cause of Christ.
1. Simon’s transformation teaches that the most zealous of hearts can be transformed to the will of God.
The enthusiasm that Simon shows for Christ’s coming kingdom is proof of that. Simon’s whole outlook was changed and he became a warrior in the love and compassion of Jesus. Those who came to Simon learned of God’s love and the reasons for following. Since he was inherently a man of the Law, Simon also understood the need for full devotion to the cause of Christ.
2. A man of war can be transformed into a man of peace.
When we seek out others for the kingdom, we do not need to seek someone who is like us but different. Remember, God is a God of all people so He favors the challenge of seeking diversity in order to transform all to have one similar goal. To be part of God’s inheritance. Besides, if we were all the same it would get pretty boring wouldn’t it.
Simon did not change overnight but his desire to follow a cause for the good of the nation, of the world never changed.
Are you Zealous for Christ?? Would you give your life for the cause? Are you willing to stand up for Jesus and be counted?
Did you answer those truthfully to yourself or just playing lip-service as a twice a year Christian? The choice is yours. Can you truly say, “As for Me and My Household, We Serve the Lord”
The Apostle Thomas was an analytical man with a very critical mind. He was also a loyal follower of Christ. Seems like the two would contradict each other but Thomas, while in Christ’s presence, knew Jesus was the Messiah. Thomas saw and believed. The inquisitive mind of Thomas was a driving factor in his doubtful nature. On the flip side, the same mind would encourage the pursuit of answers which would lead him to a greater faith. Thomas was even ready to die with him until the last minute in the garden when they all fled except John who stood by Mary. There are many different stories and ideas of who he was prior to leaving everything and following Jesus. Franco Zeffirelli characterized him as a servant. Extra biblical texts note that he was a leader in his community, a fisherman, even a carpenter. No matter his past, Thomas became a driving force in spreading the Gospel. What lessons can we learn from this man?
1. We do not have to see to believe.
We all know that individual who needs to use his or her senses to fully understand and believe something. Most people like that need physical proof. They need to witness miracles to have faith. How many in ancient times did not see Him but heard God’s voice then in fearful respect and trust, believed in God who is greater than themselves. The creation of idols assisted those who needed to see their god in order to believe it would help them. Thomas needed to see Jesus, to feel the wounds.
We do not have the same opportunity as the Disciples and other followers who saw Jesus first hand but we have the Holy Spirit with us. Jesus gave us the constant companion who helps guide us in the Word and is that little voice to remind us right from wrong. Something we know for certain, Jesus is Alive and Well within our hearts.
Jesus lovingly chided Thomas while giving him a lesson in faith right after the incident by saying,
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29
This is a blessing for us who can believe and have faith in what we know we cannot see with our mortal eyes but have the sight of God in the eyes of our hearts.
2. Being inquisitive of God is not a bad thing, just be careful and don’t make it a habit.
Thomas, like Peter, questioned Jesus as He spoke of going to Heaven and making a place for the Apostles. Thomas was confused and asked for clarity and direction. He gave a straight forward answer and that was exactly what Thomas needed to hear.
Asking questions is never a bad thing but we should not ask the question, “Why?” for anything because we already know the answer. Because He is God. Not always an acceptable answer but it is truth. Asking for proof is a no/no because the proof (9 times out of 10) is right in front of you.
Thomas was a good man who spread the Gospel to India and a few other places. His martyrdom came in the form of a spear. He was killed in India after being a driving force in the conversion of the queen.
Born in Bethsaida like Peter and Andrew, he is often referred to as Phillip the Apostle in order to distinguish him from the Phillip that occurs in Acts. Phillip was slow to recognize Jesus; however, once he found Jesus he was quick to share His greatness with his friend Nathanael Bartholomew. Both Phillip and Bartholomew are frequently named together as they frequently appear together and speak together in The Bible. Phillip is not mentioned a great deal throughout Scripture and not too much is known about him in depth. While Phillips death is not detailed in the Bible it is believed that he died the death of a Christian martyr.
1. Take Time to know Jesus
Many churches rush people to get to know Jesus so they can have the numbers in accordance to who they baptized that month. This leads to a lack of true trust in Jesus as the person did not truly get to experience Christ working to the depths of the soul. A rushed baptism is a bath not an expression of faith. Do not let the music sway you either. Worship music is awesome but is not the sole factor in someone realizing Christ was right there the whole time.
2. Once You Know Jesus Don’t Hold It In
Be excited to tell others about your transforming experience. Holding it in is the worst thing you could do. God consistently told the prophets to speak without fear and they did. Jesus commands us to do the same with the Great Commission and the numerous times before His Ascension when He gave instruction on how and what to do to get the Word out.
Phillip lived for Christ and we should do the same because that is His desire for us. It is God’s desire that we accomplish the mission which we were created for. Being Caretakers of God’s Creation.
Judas Iscariot, the traitor, was the son of Simon who lived in Kerioth of Judah. He was the only Judean of the Twelve and was considered to being the closest to Jesus outside of those who saw the transfiguration. He was the group’s treasurer and one of the more outspoken. Judas’ downfall was that of greed. This led to his being a covetous man and at times pilfered from the common purse. The cause of his betrayal is considered to be greed and the false hope of an audience to the Roman Prefect which would lead to a more civilized end to the occupation or at least would lessen the Roman grip on the religious aspects of Judean life.
Jesus was given to the Pharisees for 30 pieces of silver. This was the recompense price for a gored slave. That was about 5 weeks of wages in Jesus time which today the silver would be about $600.00. So our Lord and Savior was given for recompense of $600.
The betrayer could have been any of the Twelve; but since Judas still cared more for the world and was greedy for money, he was the most logical choice. His lust for money and desire for a material change in the current society drove him into the darkness which made the Plan possible. One thing we must remember here. It wasn’t Judas who truly put Jesus on the cross, it was and is our sins.
What can we learn for him?
1. Do not devalue our relationship with Christ.
Judas took what he could from the treasury of the Sanhedrin to hand Jesus over. He put a price on a life that has more value than he would ever know. When we care more for the world and less for the Father, we are placing an unwarranted discount on our love and trust in Christ. There is no price that we could pay that equals what God has done for us. He gives us His grace freely, and His Mercy through blood. All we have to do is accept, believe, have faith, and trust in God that we are going to share in the inheritance thanks to Jesus. Of course we still are bound to obeying the 10 Commandments and living a Christ-like life. When we are disobedient and lose faith, we devalue our relationship with Jesus.
2. It is better to listen closely than to just hear things because ears are deceiving.
Judas did not hear the right things because he truly did not listen. There are six recorded times between Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where Jesus is recorded saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him”, in one fashion or another. Hearing is an audible function that is used to translate sound vibrations into words. When God speaks to us, the vibrations react with our very souls and cause us to listen and act in an obedient manner. Listening is the response to hearing and acting in obedience is the response to listening properly.
When we do not hear things correctly, the message gets misinterpreted in our minds. That is the Adversary tugging at us so we lose sight of God’s intentions.
Reading Scripture involves hearing then listening in order to be obedient to God’s Word. Paying attention to that still small voice that resonates through our heart when we are in the right frame of mind is God speaking to us through the Holy Spirit. What we do with it is determined by how well we listen and how strong is our faith that it is God.
More people in the world today are seeing the Ten Commandments as suggestions and not required of us because of the covenant with Jesus. How can they truly live with themselves when Jesus himself said that He was here as a fulfillment of the law not the abolished or changer of it. We are still bound by these Commandments no matter how you size it. We are not bound by the sacrifices and feasts but are still bound by the moral and ethical statutes that are encompassed by the Commandments and spelled out in Leviticus. Let us look at them with open hearts and eyes.
Moses went up on the mountain and stayed for many days worshiping and learning from God. Upon his return, Moses lifted two tablets and written on them were Ten Commandments. These Commands are the basis for the Levitical Laws that cover rituals, morals and ethics, and the disciplinary actions which are set in place to ensure a healthy and prosperous life for the Children of God.
1 No Other God
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
Probably the second most powerful phrase in the Old Testament after “In the Beginning God Created”. This verse sets the message and the mood for the Law of God. This is how God wants us to live. This is where we see that our lives are in the hands of One. How glorious are the Words of the Father who gave us life. It is for Him that we live, worship and give all praise. Yahweh, Elohim, Hashem Elohim, Adonai, Jehovah. All names with which we know the name whom God told Moses simply, I AM that I AM, ehyeh ašer ehyeh. He is our God and we are His people.
In those days there were many gods that were worshiped. Some had only altars some actually had been made from wood, stone, metal, or mud and clay, okay basically they were man made representations of what they believed their god to look like. These gods were prayed to and sacrificed to and some of the things came to be out of happenstance, come coincidence, and others by pure dumb luck. Later even after knowledge of the One True God spread there were still many places who could not give up their old ways. The Greeks and Romans worshiped many gods who had specific duties and were given human form and situations. The Celts and Druids worshiped nature
I looked at Isaiah 44:6 in many different translations and they all proclaimed the same thing, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.”
That’s right, and now look at what Jesus states in John 10: 30, “I and My Father are one.” So when Jesus came and put a stop to many things and becoming the final sacrifice, giving himself, God was showing that He was truly willing to give up everything for all of His creation.
You see, our God is a jealous God but also kind and loving. He created us and when the world thought they were better off on their own, He let them try for a time and flooded the earth hoping to set things right. God stepped in again after many years and found Abraham who in faith gave all things to God. Including the life of his son, whom God did not take but gave back to Abraham.
Our God has a personal relationship with us and we will have no other gods before him.
2 No Graven Image
The world today has many objects and people we call idols. There is the popular T.V. show that finally ended. There are celebrities, money, fame, fortune, perversions, images, and many more things that take our attentions away from God. In simpler terms, anything that takes our focus, attention, desires, love, and worship, away from God could be considered an idol. Something to remember here though. God is not saying to ignore your family, just to understand that even though they are whom we love, we are to love and worship God.
How many idols did God tear down by human hands? Golden statues, graven images, wood and metal images. How many did He take out by His own power using nature as the hand?
The Graven Image also speaks of what became known as Icons. This was taken to extreme in some places where not a picture, a statue, rug, or mosaic is found with any pictorial representation of what one believes God or Jesus may look like. There are places where you will not even find pictures or statues of doves, or visual representations of the Angel of God at all.
There are three common idols in churches today:
A church building is over 100 years old and has been remodeled 3 times inside. Relocation is needed because the church is just too old and a bigger place is needed. This is an example of places of gathering moving from a tool for transformation to an object of worship. We must remind people that the building is not the church, His people are the church. God does not live in the place where we gather; He lives in the hearts of His people.
Living in traditional ways and not expanding with new revelations which help the Body of Christ increase is also an idol. Because the Lord worked in amazing ways in the past, the past can become an idol where people long for the past more than they long for the Lord. Old things pass away but their memories live on. Some traditions do not fit in today’s worldview of Christians.
Because God changed lives through a program or event, people can elevate a program to an unhealthy place. Programs can become ends in themselves and not tools used in a church’s discipleship process. When this happens, they exist as modern-day bronze snakes. An example of this is when praise bands become the center-point of worship (become the celebrity) and the Word is not prevalent.
We are a lost generation trying to find our place in the universe. Why are we searching on earth and out in the stars when the best place to start is our own hearts? God wrote His Word on our hearts so we would never forget Him. Some have stained their hearts so black with sin that the transgressions have become their gods.
How do we help them wash away the stain? How can we, as Christians reach others? Did not God give us those instructions? Did not God make a sacrifice so that we all could be white as snow? We need to remember and conduct ourselves in the manor prescribed by the moral and ethical laws and above all give direct and all attention to the 10 Commandments while worshiping God. The other thing, paying attention and conducting ourselves in the teachings of God Incarnate (Jesus) and following the Great Commission. We do these things: giving our lives to Christ and taking up our crosses daily, sharing His Word, His Truth, and Hi(s)Story mixed with our redemption story then we are showing the proper love and will have No Image that Replaces our Relationship with Him
3 Taking God’s Name in Vain
Have you ever been in a church where you accidentally let out a darn or one of the less considered curse words and one of the older members of the congregation deride you and say that you are breaking a commandment? Someone needs to look at that verse again….
Now, do not get me wrong because the vile tongue is covered in Scripture (39 times in fact) and is a big no-no for us, but it is only a small minute part of the Third Commandment. Before we go on, let us look at the NKJV translation of Exodus 20:7,
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Reminder, the first four commandments are specifically covering God and worship. The other six are the short but concise morality laws from which come the 672 Mosaic Laws.
As you can see it says nothing about using vile (curse) words which are demeaning in nature. It isn’t totally meant to address the use of words, phrases, and even gestures that may be socially uncouth or vulgar. The Third Commandment is specifically addressing the misuse of God’s name.
The fact of the matter is that God didn’t want the Israelites to say that He’d said something that He, in fact, had not. This makes sense doesn’t it? God has a reputation to protect. He doesn’t want anyone saying, “Thus saith the Lord”, if the Lord did not thus saith it. From a legalist standpoint, do not commit perjury for God opposes it. If you make a vow in His name, KEEP IT.
We hear people today say that God told him or her this or that. Did He really say it? Supposed prophets or seers today use this for emphasis and getting people’s attention. All those dreamers on You Tube who swear up and down that “God said to me that the rapture will take place on such and such date.” The time passes and oops. Many are using God’s name to say that some disaster will happen on specific dates, the day passes and oops, wrong. These are just the minions of the false prophets that will come (some of which are already here). Misinterpretation of Scriptures that turn into gospels (i.e. Prosperity Gospel and others) are examples of misusing God’s name.
Some of the conversation starters to look out for are:
Now, this is not a license to use vulgar language (even young children now a days use OMG in their texts and social media). We still need to do right by the Father and keep our minds, hearts, and mouths clean from all forked tongues.
So what does this mean for us??
We are to be on our guard not to make false claims or promises we know we cannot keep in God’s name. If a vow is made in God’s name keep it (Ordinances, Sacraments, and Covenants). Tread lightly but understand we do not always walk on pins and needles, we will make mistakes.
4 Rest and the Sabbath
The 4th Commandment starts out simple, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”, but today’s world makes it ever so hard to do so. The day of Sabbath is traditionally Friday evening to Saturday night, it is on the weekend. It is the time for dates, dining out, games, concerts, and other things where people either work or watch others work. This is not what God had in mind. Sabbath is a day of rest and worship that must be taken to revere Our Father. As you read further you will see how Sabbath is transformed for Christians.
8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.9 Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
This is the Fourth Commandment given to the Hebrew nation while running from Egypt. Each Seventh Day belongs to the Lord and is not a day of work but set apart as Holy. It is a day set apart for rest and worship. There were many physical reasons for this as well as the main fact of the rest day of God after the creation. Understanding this means that Moses had everyone travel and gather food and water in a six day period but on the seventh they stayed still, rested and worshiped. Jews celebrate Sabbath on Friday sundown to Saturday evening. This is a time for a big meal and worship through a set of prayers songs and a reading.
Want to know something interesting? Paul, when writing to the Christians in Colossi, said this, ”Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Col 2:16-17.
Before you get crazy here, Paul did not say that Jesus says that ALL the Mosaic Laws are now cancelled. There is nothing there about the morality laws and Paul persistently ensured the morality laws are still adhered to. He was just saying that because we areunder new management (the Covenant in Christ) we no longer adhere to the dietary restrictions, required ritual celebrations, and sacrifices. With Christ, Paul even said, the 4th Commandment (Sabbath) is no longer needed to be celebrated because these were mere shadows pointing to Christ. Christ is the reality, the Truth and He set us free.
I am not saying that we do not need to observe the practice. We still need to take time for rest. It is good for the body and the soul to relax and reflect on Jesus and the day. The day of worship (thinking of, praying, praising, spending time with God) for us is every day, every moment, we must rest when we can and in our rest, worship.
Here is something that people who claim Jesus abolished the laws instead of fulfilling them read too much into. Paul says in Galatians 5:14,
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." But he goes on to say, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” This is what happens when a law is broken, judgement. If you do not love (break a law) then I’m sorry, you have to deal with the consequences. Yes Jesus loves us but we must love Him back. Just because we accepted Him as Lord and Savior does not mean the slate is clean and you can sin all you want without truth in worship. NO. He will stand for you but if you did not stand for Him in obedience then you will be like the goat who was separated never to see the master again.
Tell that one to the next person that says that they can do all those things marred as bad in Leviticus because Jesus abolished them.
5 Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Exodus 20:12
The first of the moral laws for living on this earth given by God in the Ten Commandments is the easiest one to fall from. This one is basic to all other social relationships and the foundation for decent human society. The first true social interactions happens with the parents and siblings. There are many Scriptures which speak of honoring our parents. There is no limit to the honor that is due our parents. Children must not shame their parents, bring heartache or pain, and never be angry towards their parents. The Apostle Paul restated this commandment in Ephesians. He also says,
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
The Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are wisdom books which hold moral and ethical truths that are still poignant to today’s society. Why have we failed? We failed because of our love. Love has turned from Godly things to worldly advances. Love has changed the people in the world. We have redefined love. It is one thing to show love for one another but another thing to ignore God’s great love for His creation. How has this happened???
Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters, we have dishonored our parents by failing to uphold and require the 5th Commandment.
One of the problems today is that parents are bowing to the children. This world has gone from respecting elders to “let the child explore things and they will learn on their own”. By doing this, we have lost the art of our basic rights as parents regarding proper teaching and disciplining (the whole thing known as rearing) the children in the way of the Lord. We have become desensitized through the whims and teachings of child psychologists who have given more power to children causing a lack of discipline, respect, and other godly values that we, as Christians, are ordained (under strict obligation) to observe and teach. We have failed our parents by not following their teachings which were of God. Yes there have been mistranslations and nowhere in Scripture does it actually say to spare the rod (physical discipline with an implement) spoil the child. The rod spoken of in Scripture is the teachings, the wisdom of God. If we do not teach the children right, then we have spoiled their chances of being right with God. We have to reign ourselves in and honor our parents by presenting tough love to our children through godly wisdom.
Why have we had so many incidents with children doing wrong? It has gotten worse in the last 20 years. Some children were not taught right. If they were taught then the follow up and constant observance did not happen. The thing is, we let society take over once the child is in school. Children are becoming engulfed in outside negative influences from other children who were not reared in the ways of the Father and adults who think they know what children need. Disrespect, sexualization of women, and mockery are society’s pull into acceptance. Sin is the norm. I wonder what happened. Did someone’s parents go overkill on biblical traditions and forced the child into disbelief as an adult? Or, was there a free thinking parent that let everything go too far? I mean really, parents are even being sued by their own children for what they consider to be “neglect”. Come on folks.
Dr. James Dobson addressed D.C. on the National Day of Prayer with some perfect yet condemning thoughts. He let them know that all these recent immoral and thoughtless decisions are corrupting our youth. He really let the people listening understand that the U.S. needs to straighten their act up and take many things into consideration including the media and politics. He explained that parents need their rights back; also the media and LGBT communities need to back off because they are causing mental, emotional, and spiritual breakdown of the children; manipulating them into believing they are the norm.
We need to kick this country’s preverbal butt. Show a renewed love and compassion built on God to our children and let it flow outward. We need to fight evil with love. Show a different form of compassion never seen before so that the sinners see their folly and Jesus can revive us again.
Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder” (NKJV). “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” (KJV) Matthew 15:19 This one is not as easy to define as many may think. Murder is more than causing one physical harm leading to the demise of the individual. It is mental as well. The Ancient Jewish sages say that it applies only to illegal killing, not for the actions of killing the enemy during war. Man, being made in the Image of God and therefore all lives of mankind are precious. ONLY GOD has the right to give and take a life.
Like I said above, this Commandment is more than just a physical act, what about the feelings and actions of the heart. Does not Jesus say that sinning in the heart is just like actually committing the sin in the flesh? One does not have to actually shed blood in order to violate this Law. Think of it like this, public shaming, harmful gossip, and slandering attack a man’s dignity and therefore is abject murder. The Jewish Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Father), says this, “The evil tongue slays three persons: the utterer of the evil, the listener, and the one spoken about”.
Now as I mentioned before, killing of the enemy during wartime is not technically committing murder. Since time began, we have had many wars and police actions in which there were atrocities committed. Those atrocities are considered murder, yes, even though some would say they were just victims of the war it was much more than that. Killing during a firefight is much different than intentional raiding, killing just for killing, raping, and looting. These actions are against the 6th Commandment.
Thou Shalt Not Murder therefore is more than just the physical act of premeditated murder, it involves inappropriate feeling from the heart and extremely harmful words. So we really have to watch what we say or do no matter how we feel. Remember, as much as we want to say words of condemnation we must be vigilant in not letting emotions get overridden by hatefulness and disgust no matter the situation. Be wary when taking up certain causes because this day and age there are so many with deep rooted evil intentions that start out as peaceful.
Would God approve of the senseless killing that is going on today in the world? No. When we destroy our very brothers and sisters (humankind) which He created for misunderstood and misinterpreted reasons, we are committing murder. When we kill the unborn we are committing murder. Brother and Sisters in Christ, we are in a period of spiritual war with the world. Stay in the Word and keep it on your heart and God will provide strength, guidance, and comfort. May God bless you all in this time of tribulation.
7 Adultery and Thievery 8
Exodus 20:14, 15 “Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal.” (KJV).
These two are the 7th and 8th Commandments. I find these two kind of close in that the adulterer is also a thief. Now remember, adultery punishment is equal for both male and female. The penalty for adultery was more severe than it is today:
If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. Deuteronomy 22:22
And the man that commits adultery with another man's wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10
Then there is the one who thinks nobody is watching has another thing coming
The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, 'No eye will see me,' and he keeps his face concealed. Job 24:15
Sorry Charlie, God sees everything. He even knows your heart’s desire.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5 27-28
Don’t let your eyes direct the desires of the heart. Our eyes should be fixed on God and on the person He chooses for our life mate. Sometimes people listen to the lustful desires or wish to experiment outside of God’s design. Acting upon that temptation and even the mere thought of it leads to sin either of the body or in the heart.
Adultery violates the sworn promise of parties to a sacred covenant. It also perverts the picture of our sovereign union with God Himself. In other words, don’t do it. If you have, then be true and ask forgiveness.
As for the thief, well it is a basic understanding not to steal from others but there is a deeper meaning here, stealing from ourselves. This self-burglary involves our inner honesty within our very being. When we lie to ourselves we are rationalizing an injustice and taking away our blessing of inner peace.
Here is one for you, sin constitutes theft from God.
Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed. Numbers 5:7
Let me explain. Jim borrows the pressure washer with the intended purpose of washing the walls and concrete around his property. Jim then also uses it to do the same for his son’s house 5 miles away. Jim stole a usage of an item by taking it elsewhere and using it without your knowledge thereby abusing a privilege. If something happened to it even in transit would you not be a little upset. Well, God lends our souls the five senses etc. to live a life for which He intended. If we misuse it such as for speaking evil, or doing things for which are not His intent then we have stolen the gifts for our own gratification. We have sinned.
Therefore, thievery has eternal ramifications because the outer action causes the inner dysfunction known as sin against God. Our thoughts can betray us. This action shows a lack of trust that God meets all our needs.
Well, what do we do? Recognize that God truly does meet all our needs, has given us a life mate, and makes our lives easy as long as we stay in Him. An exit to sin can lead to eternal darkness unless recompense is made.
9 The False Witness and Selfish One 10
We close out our look at the Ten Commandments with a look into the final two.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s. Exodus 20: 16-17
The 9th Commandment talks about more than lying against your neighbor. Have you ever looked deeper into this? Why would God use the term that translates into neighbor? What about not speaking the Truth at all times to all people. After all, everyone is considered as neighbor, not just the people next door. Are we not also to be witnesses of the Truth which is Christ and His work in our lives? The Hebrew word for truth has the first, near middle, and last letters of the alphabet. This brings new meaning to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If we cannot speak the truth (bearing false testimony) in any fashion then we are denying our relationship with Christ who is recorded by John saying, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” John 14:6.
The 10th Commandment talks of coveting. Some have come to understand coveting to mean being jealous of, then acting upon it through theft or adultery. It is more than that, coveting refers to selfish desires and or lusting after another’s possessions or partners. When the intentions of the heart are not scripturally sound nor within godly standards, are we not breaking this commandment. Do not think that just because we do not confess it that God has no knowledge of it, He knows. We need to reveal our hearts to ourselves to understand our need for the saving grace of God to deliver us from sin. What are we commanded to do in order to deny ourselves from the desires of temptation that lead to sin? Paul tells us in Galatians 5:24, “Walk in the spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”.
We may be physically bound by the law of man but we are spiritually and physically bound by God’s Commandments and Statutes which override man’s law. Not just Jews and Christian believers, but all God’s Creation. Scripture indicates that God was known about by many peoples and was praised for His works. Our Father was feared by many and His Statutes were known of and written about since the beginning. We as Christians are given the purpose of sharing God’s Word with the world through Love and understanding. We must not give in to the evils of this world which will cause us to sin. Take special care in all you do not to go against God’s Law. Paul reminds us that we are still required to follow His Commandments because Jesus came to fulfill them with Love.
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What do we Study Scripture for? We study to get closer to God. This is not like reading a short essay or an epic novel without stopping, it is much more personal. When studying the Word of God we open up our mind and heart to hear His Word. Studying the Word is a form of Worship that God commands us to do. For He says, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8.