Discipleship 101 #5 – What Shall We Say Then?

So, looking at all that has been said, what shall we say then?

All of this can be summed up in what Jesus said to the Pharisees: “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” (Matthew 22:34-40)

So, the question I have to ask is: Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind? Do you really love Jesus with everything you got, trusting Him and following Him no matter what? Do you have the Word of God (the Bible) as the highest authority in your life? Do you read it, study it, meditate on it, memorize it, and apply it into your life? Do you really seek God with your whole heart? (Psalm 119:10). Do you really long for Him with your soul? (Psalm 84:2). Do you really want your mind to be renewed? (Romans 12:2). Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Do you love your enemies? (Matthew 5:44). Do you consider all to be your neighbor, as Jesus explains in the parable of the Good Samaritan? Do you live by the “golden rule” of Matthew 7:12? “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets

Discipleship is something you are, not something you do. It is a way of life for all of life in all areas of life (work, school, marriage, family, friends, etc.). It is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. We are called to be and make disciples!

I am currently reading the book “Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ” by John Piper, and the topic of the first chapter is about the glory of God, which ends with a prayer that I thought conveys beautifully the heart all of us should have towards God, and so I want to close off with this prayer by John Piper:

“O Father of glory, this is the cry of our hearts – to be changed from one degree of glory to another, until, in the resurrection, at the last trumpet, we are completely conformed to the image of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Until then, we long to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord, especially the knowledge of his glory. We want to see it as clearly as we see the sun, and to savor it as deeply as our most desired pleasure. O merciful God, incline our hearts to your Word and the wonders of your glory. Wean us from our obsession with trivial things. Open the eyes of our hearts to see each day what the created universe is telling about your glory. Enlighten our minds to see the glory of your Son in the Gospel. We believe that you are the All-glorious One, and that there is none like you. Help our unbelief. Forgive the wandering of our affections and the undue attention we give to lesser things. Have mercy on us for Christ’s sake, and fulfill in us your great design to display the glory of your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.” (John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, p17-18)

Breathed Out By God #1 – An Introduction

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra — which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 3:10 – 4:8)

Don’t you think it’s ironic that I that present seven topics that are on my list for possible next series, and then introduce something completely different? I think it is, but such is life. It is full of surprises! Yet don’t think it’s the end of that list… Please comment still on your favorite topic here.

Anyways, the reason for this series may not be so apparent, but I used the “famous” 2 Timothy 3:16 verse this last Saturday during a meeting, and spoke on Sunday with my good friend and participant of that meeting, Patricia about this verse. She wondered about the deeper meaning of this verse and its application. We did not have much time then to go deep into it, but I must admit that I too am intrigued about the depth of it. Hence, this short series.

The verse of 2 Timothy 3:16 is pretty consistent across the different translations. Let me try to summarize it: “All Scripture is [God-breathed (NIV), inspired by God (NASB), breathed out by God (ESV), given by inspiration of God (KJV)] [and is useful for (NIV), and profitable for (NASB, ESV, KJV)], [teaching (NIV, NASB, ESV), doctrine (KJV)], [rebuking (NIV), reproof (NASB, ESV, KJV)], [correcting (NIV), correction (NASB, ESV, KJV)], and [training in righteousness (NIV, NASB, ESV), instruction in righteousness (KJV)]

I prefer a combination of the ESV and KJV, which ends up like this: “All Scripture is breathed out by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The apparent consistency in the different translations seems to indicate that it is clear how to translate it, but what does the verse actually mean? And how and where does it apply to our lives? This introductory post will attempt to take a look at the verse as a whole, and the first half of. And then subsequent posts will deal with the four individual aspects it is useful or profitable for.

The Big Picture
As with most, if not all, verses in the Bible, this verse should be looked at within the context it is written. Although the verse itself, apart from the context, holds true and should be adhered to, it is the context which gives insights into the reason why. The verse is pretty much right in the center of a section of Scripture going from 2 Timothy 3:10 through 2 Timothy 4:8, and deals with an exhortation from the apostle Paul to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, in contrast to the false teachers which Paul warns Timothy against in the first nine verses of chapter three. It addresses directly on how Timothy must resist the opponents and remain faithful to the gospel. It is an exhortation based on Timothy’s already established faithfulness (verse 10: “you, however, have followed my teaching…“).

So in order to fully understand this verse we need to take a look at the whole picture it is part of. In 2 Timothy 2:14-26 Paul introduces the false teaching (irreverent babble) and explains how Timothy should respond to it and be different from the false teachers. In 3:1–9 Paul describes the false teachers more extensively. Having exhorted Timothy to steadfast endurance, Paul now begins to address the problem directly. He speaks of “the last days” which according to Acts 2:17 are the days after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and are thus also still the present day, and the false teachers are the people who “will be lovers of self, a lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, b disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” for they will “creep into households” and lead people “astray by various passions“. Paul commands Timothy to avoid such people (verse 5), which most likely most involves excommunication if it pertains to those who remain obstinate. Paul then goes on to explain that Scripture is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” and that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

We first need to realize that Paul is writing this letter to Timothy. Paul sent Timothy to the church in Ephesus to deal with false teachers. Both letters from Paul to Timothy deal with this aspect in various form, although the second letter seem to focus more on exhorting Timothy to persevere. False teaching is corrected by correct teaching (next to church discipline and possible excommunication), and so Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is to persevere in teaching. We should in any case combine verse 16 with 17 in order to get the actual full sentence. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” So for who is Scripture profitable? So that the man of God may be competent and equipped. Who is the man of God? This is an Old Testament phrase. For instance, Moses is called a man of God (Deuteronomy 33:1, Joshua 14:6), angels of the LORD are called a man of God (Judges 13:6;8), and prophets like Elijah (1 Kings 17, 2 Kings 1) and Elisha (2 Kings 4 – 7) are called a man of God . Overall, we can say that the “man of God” is indicating a messenger of God. Both the background of the Old Testament and the context show that Paul sees Timothy as his delegate and a leader over the church. A shepherd/pastor. A preacher. Paul provides a basic framework for Timothy on how to preach. Sinclair B. Ferguson, distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminister Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas says of 2 Timothy 3:16, “Thus informed, we come to see that preaching to the heart will give expression to four things: instruction in the truth, conviction of conscience, restoration and transformation of life, and equipping for service […] Preaching, therefore, involves teaching – imparting doctrine in order to renew and transform the mind. It implies the inevitable rebuke of sin, and brings with it the healing of divine correction.” If the man of God approached the Scripture with humility, he himself will be instructed, convinced, restored, transformed and equipped in the process of preparing. If that happens, and it should, then in turn he will be able, by the Holy Spirit, to do the same when he is preaching.

Of course this is not the only application of this verse as a whole, for the Holy Spirit does not need a preacher to accomplish His work (although John 14:26 does say that the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance all that Jesus said, hence Jesus’ words must be proclaimed first), but Paul, a preacher, is charging Timothy as a preacher, to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2) in order to overcome or correct false teaching.

All Scripture
What is considered all Scripture? First off, it seems evident that the Old Testament books are implied, but there are references in the New Testament which refer to itself as Scripture as well in two occasions. First, in 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul says, “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’” Although the command to not muzzle an ox is a quote from Deuteronomy 25:4, the command that a laborer deserves his wages is a direct quote from Luke 10:7, and Paul refers to it as Scripture. Secondly, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter says, “And count l the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” And so it seems that both Paul and Peter refer to the NT writings to be inspired by God at a very early date, considering that Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy around 64–65 AD, and Peter wrote his second letter around 64-67 AD.

Breathed Out By God
Paul is using a Greek word here (theopneustos) which does not occur anywhere else in the Bible. I actually read that this word did not occur anywhere in Greek texts outside the Bible prior to this letter. That is quite remarkable to say the least! The word is a combination of “theos” (meaning: God) and “pneō” (meaning: to breath). In any case, Paul is clearly pointing to the fact that God breathed out the Scriptures, and does not point to the human authors of Scripture as inspired people.

In the next session I will attempt to unravel the word “teaching,” its implications and its applications.

Take the Test

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

I don’t know about you, but if I read this verse I don’t get this warm and fuzzy feeling. Of course the prideful side of me say, ‘Peanuts, I’ll pass this test anytime. Bring it on!’ But that’s only to cover my fear that I might fail. Paul’s request is to take a humble serious look at ourselves. The prophet Jeremiah says that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). And so in order to really examine ourselves means to let others into the evaluation process. And that’s where it gets scary, because oftentimes people are a lot more direct and straightforward when asked a series of questions about a person than when they talk to that person directly, so this could lead to some surprises. Consider for instance the seven letters which Jesus wrote to the seven churches in Revelation. Each church was surprised about the result of the examination. Churches that thought they were doing great, weren’t doing that great at all. Churches that thought they weren’t doing so great, were doing better than they thought. A great lesson in humility!

Anyways, exam yourselves if Jesus is in you. Are you really born again? Do you have the witness of the Holy Spirit in your heart (Romans 8:9,16)? Do you love your brothers (1 John 3:14)? Do you practice righteousness (1 John 2:29; 3:9)? Are you living a life of godly separation (1 John 5:4)? I ran into this series of questions from John Wesley and the Puritans of over 200 years ago.

  1. Am I consciously (or unconsciously) creating the impression that I am better than I really am? Am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts or words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
  4. Can I be trusted?
  5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying or self-justifying? Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  7. Did the Bible live for me today? Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
  8. Am I enjoying prayer?
  9. When did I last speak to someone else with the object of trying to win that person for Christ?
  10. Am I making contacts with other people and using them for the Master’s glory?
  11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  13. Do I disobey God in anything?
  14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  15. Am I defeated in any part of my life? Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, distrustful?
  16. How do I spend my spare time?
  17. Am I proud?
  18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
  19. Is there anybody who I fear, dislike, disown, criticize? If so, what am I doing about it?
  20. Is Christ real to me?

We need help to do this. We need Christ, as David recognizes in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” The focus of our examination should not be sin, but Christ. He is the goal. Is He yours?

Psalm #2 – A Cosmic War

Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’ Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2)

This psalm is the first of the so-called Messianic psalms, meaning that it speaks prophetically about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the anointed One. It is a testimony to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Jesus Himself said that the psalms spoke of Him. In Luke 24:44 we read, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled“. This psalm talks about Jesus as the Son of God, His office as king over heaven and earth, and that they will wage war against Him. If you read the psalm carefully you will see that it is build up in four parts, and that each part is a different voice.

The Voice of the Nations
Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!‘” (Psalm 2:1-3)
Their is a fight going on. The kings of the earth have taken their stand and counsel together against God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. You could say this began in the time of Babel when men took counsel together, thinking that when mankind is united they have a better change against God. This is also seen in the Book of Acts when the first persecution broke out against the church, we’re told that the apostles, Peter and John, after they had been threatened, returned back to the church to give their report. Here is this movement, beginning when Pilate joined up with the religious rulers and Herod in order to put Jesus to death. This is a movement against God and Christ, and it is heading for a climax. In Acts 4:24-28 we read, “And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, ‘O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” This is obviously a vain thing to do, thinking that you can win from God. Yet Satan thought he could do it, and Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30), and so the vain thing is very much a reality we have to deal with.

And what are the shackles and cords that is talked about? Those who oppose the Lord think of God that He is someone who brings bondage. The Ten Commandments, the rule of the Law of the Old Testament, marriage, heterosexuality can all be considered, by the unbeliever, cords by which we are bound. Yet Paul says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23). And Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17), and in answer to the question what the greatest commandment in the Law is, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). To love the Lord is freedom. Freedom from the bondage of sin (freedom from “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16)), and freedom from eternal punishment and wrath.

The Voice of the Father
He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain” (Psalm 2:4-6)
I love this verse. God looks at man and how he tries to plot against Him, and just laughs. He’s not afraid, confused or depressed. He laughs. He isn’t pacing back and forth in the throne room of heaven, wondering what He should do next. He laughs. God sits in perfect peace and assurance, yet doesn’t remain inactive. He laughs, but not only laughs. He takes action. Yet before He acts, He speaks. I think great mmercy is shown by God here. He has every reason to act against man, but in His love and mercy He speaks a word of warning. He speaks of a way out. He has set a king upon His holy mountain, Jesus! A beautiful passage can be found in Isaiah which is worth mentioning here. “I have not spoken in secret, in some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in a waste place’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, declaring things that are upright. Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; they have no knowledge, who carry about their wooden idol and pray to a god who cannot save. Declare and set forth your case; indeed, let them consult together who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, ‘only in the LORD are righteousness and strength’ Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him will be put to shame.” (Isaiah 45:19-24).

The Voice of the Son
I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’” (Psalm 2:7-9)
It is completely in line with how the Son, Jesus, relates to the Father. Jesus Himself said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49). He echoes and confirms the promise of the Father to us. Jesus remembers what God the Father said to Him, identifying Him as the Son of the Father. To beget means to procreate or generate offspring. Jesus was not created, rather He created everything that was created (Colossians 1:16-17). God the Father “has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). We read in Revelation what happens when Jesus returns: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords'” (Revelation 19:11-16).

The Voice of the Spirit
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:10-12)
In this last part of the psalm we see the Holy Spirit taking on the role as counselor, and counsels the kings of the earth to give up their foolish attempts to overthrow God. He instructs them to worship the Lord with reverance and rejoice with trembling, to surrender to God and give Him the proper reverence. In Psalm 5:7 it says “but as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” The Hebrew says to kiss (nashaq) the Son. The root of this word means “to catch fire, burn, kindle,” and so paying homage is a proper context here.

Where Psalm 1 begins with a beatitude, Psalm 2 ends with one. Verse 10 talks about the mind. We should show discernment and take warning. The “counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1) has led the ungodly astray. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). Verse 11 talks about the heart. We should worship Jesus! Verse 12 talks about the will. We should surrender to Jesus. “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered” (Joel 2:32), because “the LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7). Beautiful!

The Command to Connect

Recently I was contemplating on the effects of not seeing your close friends for a while. I thought about this when our weekly home group didn’t meet for a couple of times, but it’s been brought to my attention as well as good friends of mine recently left for the United Kingdom, and also I started trying to re-ignite my friendship with some guys I used to go to a lot of music concerts with, and concluded this is easier said than done.

I realized that connecting on a heart level with other Christians is not optional. It is a must! It is of practical importance to our spiritual health and growth. For it says in 1 Corinthians 12:21 “And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you“. We all need each other, we need to connect on a heart level with one another on a frequent basis in order to not only maintain our friendship or fellowship, but also to encourage one another.

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). What are youthful lusts? They are sexual temptation, illicit pleasures of the flesh, longing for fame and glory, etc. We need to flee from them. This means don’t entertain thoughts about them, don’t challenge them, don’t try them. The thing is we always pursue something. And so if we flee from (stop pursuing) these things this automatically means that we are running towards (or pursuing) something else. This goes hand in hand.

So what should we pursue? We should pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. Let’s zoom in a bit on righteousness. “And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17). So if we pursue righteousness we will find peace, quietness and confidence. “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul” (Proverbs 2:6-10). We should pursue wisdom (ask God) and walk in integrity, then we will be able to discern righteousness and have knowledge that’s pleasant to the soul.

Now we should pursue righteousness with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. We must be around Christians who will seriously encourage us. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called Today; lest anyone of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). To encourage one another daily takes responsibility. “Let us hold fast  the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, and not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

How do we pursue righteousness? How seriously do we take up this responsibility? What actions does the Apostle Paul encourage us to take? What will play a critical role in reaching our spiritual goals? What do we need to be mindful of as we encourage and sharpen one another in our faith? How do these verses change our perspective on the purpose and importance of friendships?

We have been given the command to connect. Connect on a level so deep that we can really encourage and stimulate one another to love and good deeds. I feel challenged to seriously examine my friendships and starting seeing them in light of these verses.