Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How far would you go? (Gen. 22:1-19)

Dr. Paul Manuel—2017

One of the least favorite aspects of education for typical students is exams. Most students (as well as most teachers) would be content to omit them. They are, however, an obligatory part of the educational process.
A female college English teacher was known for being a hard grader. After receiving a B minus on an exam, and hoping to improve his grade, Jack decided to take advantage of the impending Valentine's Day holiday, and he sent her a heart-shaped box of chocolates with the inscription, "Be Mine." The following day, he received a note that read: "Thank you, for the candy, but it's still Be Mine-Us."
Some tests are not amenable to grade adjustment. Thankfully, the tests God gives are all pass-fail, like the test He gave Abraham in the story, The Binding of Isaac.

The Binding of Isaac (Ha'akedah in Gen 22), is about a boy's trust in his father and a father's trust in his God. It recounts how Abraham almost kills his only son as a sacrifice to the Lord and how the boy is spared at the last moment, offering an important lesson to the Patriarch, a lesson his descendants will retell for generations. It begins as a test (or "temptation") of Abraham's obedience.

I. The Lord orders the patriarch (Gen 22:1-2).
Gen 22:1 God tested Abraham.2 He said to him,3 "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. 2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love,4 and go to the region of Moriah.5 Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
Let us take stock of events leading to this 'test.' What prompted God to examine the extent of Abraham's obedience? Did God doubt the Patriarch's devotion? Like most exams, this 'test' was for the student's benefit, to probe not the depth of Abraham's knowledge about God but the degree of Abraham's commitment to God. Because God knows all things before they happen (foreknowledge), He knew Abraham's heart as well as how he would respond to this command,6 but that did not mean obedience was easy for Abraham.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The epistles to the Thessalonians

Dr. Paul Manuel—2017

Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians

I. Paul addresses the Thessalonian church (1 Thess 1:1-10).
A. He extends a greeting (v. 1).
B. He expresses his thanksgiving (vv. 2-10).
Application: God places into your life those who are more mature in the faith as models for you to imitate, and it is important for you to emulate them (Phil 3:17).

II. Paul recounts the initial visit (1 Thess 2:1-20)
A. He touts their success (vv. 1-12).
B. He expresses his thanks.. .again (2:13-20).
Application: You may face more serious threats than from secular authorities, so it is important that you recognize them and that you resist them (Jms 4:7).

III. Paul reviews his protégée's visit (1 Thess 3:1-13).
A. He recalls Timothy's ministry (vv. 1-5).
B. He recounts Timothy's return (vv. 6-10).
C. He petitions God's blessing (vv. 11-13).
Application: There are too many unforeseen and unforeseeable variables to plot the course of your life with certainty (Jer 29:11).

IV. Paul offers his readers instruction (1 Thess 4:1-12).
A. He teaches about satisfying God (vv. 1-8).
B. He teaches about loving others (vv. 9-12).
Application: Your responsibility to care for others is not the same for everyone but is greatest for those closest to you (Gal 6:10).

V. Paul explains about Jesus' return (1 Thess 4:13-5:11).
A. He tells how some expect it (vv. 13-18).
B. He tells how most ignore it (vv. 1-1 1).
Application: Do not lose your hope in him, and do not lapse in your devotion to him (Matt 24:13).

VI. Paul gives some closing remarks (1 Thess 5:12-28).
A. He instructs about church life.. .again (vv. 12-22).
B. He appends a benediction (vv. 23-24)
C. He solicits their prayers (vv. 25-28).
Application: You should be careful to acknowledge and not ignore other believers. (2 John 7a, 10-11).

Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

I. Paul addresses the Thessalonian church...again (2 Thess 1:1-4).
A. He extends a greeting (vv. 1-2).
B. He expresses his thanksgiving (vv. 3-4).
Application: Proper pride is not conceitedness you have in yourself but confidence someone else has in you or you have in God (Prov 27:2; Jer 9:23-24).