Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Exhausted

Actively battling can become exhausting.  When the conflict is long and there seems to be no end, our faith is our greatest weapon.  Paul reminds Timothy to take hold of eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12).  Reminding ourselves that this world is not our home is a comfort when things of this world are being taken away from us.

We are agents of God.  He tells us where to live, what to speak, and how to respond.    Knowing that all things are for his glory, not ours, if it appears we have lost a particular battle, we know God is accomplishing his will, for us, and for our human enemy.  Therefore we can rest in a God, just like the three Hebrew boys.

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Daniel 3:16-18).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Victorious in Every Battle

Paul admonishes Timothy to fight the good fight of faith.  The analogy is not by accident.  We are in a spiritual war.  Remember Ephesians 6:10-18 opens our eyes to the fact that we are not battling with men, but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.  How does one battle what one cannot see?

We use the spiritual weapons God has given us.  We start by standing firm having been wrapped in Truth (saturated in God's Word), having out on the armor (protective gear) of righteousness (doing what is right regardless of other people's actions), wearing the shoes if the preparation of the gospel of peace, (being ready to share God's invitation if forgiveness as soon as the person who is standing against us is ready to hear it).

The most important weapon, Paul says, is the shield of faith by which we quench the fiery darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16), and use the sword, which is the Word of God.  At all times during your battle, remember to pray for other believers who are also on battles around the world.


Often remind yourself "greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world" (1John 4:4).

Friday, December 27, 2013

What to Say

In the workplace, we are to pursue love, patience and meekness (1 Timothy 6:1-2, 11).  Love may confront evil and apply consequences and yet remain patient and teachable (meek).

Imagining walking through confrontation or unfair circumstances is far different than actually living in the midst of the turmoil.  As I face an impossible situation, God reveals the shadows that hide in the corners of who I am in my humanness.  I see clearly that I cannot walk uprightly without a total dependence on God to save me from myself.

I imagine conversations to battle with my enemy, but God says,"Do not think what you will say, or how you will say it, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what to say and speak" (Luke 12:11-12 ).  We prepare for battle. We study and know the facts.  We soak our minds in scripture and prayer.  We take careful steps to remain meek, patient and loving while standing firm against our enemies.

Who can do this without God?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Love and Judgement

We are to pursue love (1 Timothy 6:11).

"Here in is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,  beloved if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" 1 ( John 4:10-11).

God is love (1 John 4:6).

God loved us while we were his enemy and he paved the way for our forgiveness (Romans 5:10).  And yet, if we reject his forgiveness and righteousness, we will receive his judgement (Romans 10:26).

God's love is displayed not only in mercy, but in judgment when mercy is rejected.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day

Christmas, the day we celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

However you celebrate, Springerle and roast duck or curry goat and Christmas ham or stuffed turkey and pumpkin pie, remember that Jesus lives and celebrates this day with you, his brother and sister (Hebrews 2:11).

He is not a guest.  He is a family member.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Today is Chrustmas Eve, the day before we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ.  I have often heard Christians lament that the world has lost the true meaning of Christmas. Shoppers are busy emptying their bank accounts or charging gifts until they have maxed out their credit cards.  Christmas parties are filled with Santa Clauses and elves while party goers are oblivious to the baby Jesus.

The first Christmas was exactly like that.  The world was not aware of the Messiah's coming.  He was shown to a very small group of people, the Shepherds, the Wisemen, Simeon, and Anna in the Temple.

Today do not lament, but rejoice that the Father has revealed His Salvation to you.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Concert

Follow after faith (1 Timothy 6:11).  How does one follow after faith?

Let's say I have been invited by a friend to a Christmas performance at a community center in a nearby town.   We have different commitments after the concert so we have to take two cars.  Since I have never been to the community center, I agree to follow her in my car.  I make the same turns as she does.  I stop when she stops.  I keep close to the same speed as she does, until we arrive at our destination.

It is a simple illustration but it makes the point.  To follow faith is to make choices that reflect
my trust that God knows what he is doing when I do not know the outcome.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Enemies in the Work Place

Our goals are not based on gain for ourselves, but on godliness (1 Timothy 6:11).  My tendency is to want everyone to be pleased with me.  A mild case of this desire can be of some benefit, however to want peace at any cost comes with a high price tag.  When others are ungodly in their relationships with us, those of us who suffer from this need to be liked are tempted to placate, to smooth over rough spots which can translate into compromising the truth.

The Psalmist wrote, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (Psalm 23:5).  The problem many of us have with that verse is that we have enemies.  Having people determined to harm us is disconcerting at best.  We need to remember Jesus said. "I say these things that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but be encouraged for I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

We do not know how our small battle will play out in his design.  But we know he will accomplish what he has purposed for us (Psalm 138:8).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In the Details

We could not maintain behavior that reflects Christ without the Holy Spirit at work in us (Romans 8:1-4; 1 Timothy 6:10).  To follow righteousness in the work place means we focus on how the eternal influences the temporal, or the temporary (Romans  8:5-8).  As believers we do not allow the behavior of others to control our behavior.  They are not our guides ( Psalm 1).  God is, through the scripture (2 Peter 1:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:16).

This does not mean we never resist unrighteousness.  On the contrary, God may have placed us where he did, at exactly the right time to fight against the unjustness that is prevalent (Esther 3:13-4:17).  Scripture says he prepares our fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1-2), that means God is in the details.  No one can hide from God, but He knows their very thoughts and is able to expose them (Hebrews 4:12-13).

We are not at the mercy of men.  We are in the hands of God (Romans 8:31-32; Hebrews 13:6).  Do your homework to be prepared for what you must address, then rest in God.

               (Psalm 144:1-2)
"Blessed be the Lord my strength,
which teaches my hands to war,
and my fingers to fight:
 My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer;
my shield, and he in whom I trust;
who subdues my people under me."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Man with the Cycle

We lived behind the church when I was between eight and nine years old.  One evening I was sitting on the steps of the church as the sun was setting.  I became aware of a strange noise coming from up the street.  I instinctively got up and hid behind the thick bushes that grew near the sides of the steps.  As I peeked through the branches a short olive skinned man marched down the sidewalk swinging a cycle, angrily muttering to himself.  As soon as I could not here that voice, I around the church and up the stairs to our home.

Paul tells us to flee the love of money and the evil that is perpetuated by its obsession.     We are to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness, instead (1 Timothy 6:10-11), all of which are death to the love of money.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Godliness and Contentment


"Godliness with contentment is truly great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6-7).

Every December, when the Christmas music is playing, when the television is overflowing with advertisements for things that will make your loved one happy and when movies show happy gatherings of people, discontent can begin to fill our hearts.   We become acutely aware of how much we don't have and how much others posses.  The shopping for gifts becomes a burden and our since of wonder is smothered in want for things.

Let's stop today and remember why we are celebrating.  We have been given a peace to face all situations.  We have a joy filled future.  We have a Savior, Brother who walks with us and is in us.

Indeed we do have every reason to be content.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Death by Greed

The love of money leads to all kinds of evil.  Paul warns that obsession with gain has caused people "to pierce themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

Notice the individual pierces himself.  Greed blinds us to our behaviors.  We justify our words and our actions.  We may violate others rights to be treated with respect.  We may become deceptive and manipulative with others and tell ourselves they deserve it, or we are justified in doing it.

We may begin to gamble with our income, either by games or by risking much of our income on risky stocks or unstable business.  We may use credit cards for gifts, clothes or trappings around the house until we can barely keep up with the monthly interest with no hope of getting out of debt.

Driven by things of this world will kill us (1 John 2:15-17).

Friday, December 13, 2013

In The Middle of It

The desire to be rich may lie at the heart of the strife between employee and employer.  Because of the daily interaction between the two, each are keenly aware of each other's faults.  The employer may be thinking, " No wonder that employee never climbed the ladder of success."  The employee may be thinking, "He's no better than I am.  Why did he make it and I am stuck under such unrealistic expectations."

In this case both the employee and the employer are focused on gain, just from different advantage points.  That focus, according to Paul, and in my own experience, produces pride, obsessions with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, and evil suspicions.  The outcome?  Thinking if I prove to be right, I will be at an advantage (gain) (1 Timothy 6:1-5).

If we find ourselves in this position, what should we do?  Pray.  Pray for God to change our heart.  Pray for wisdom.  Then wait on God to reveal what to do by soaking night and day in his Word.  He may only show us one step at a time.  We take that step, then wait again.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Surprising Connection

I was surprised to find the last chapter of Paul's letter to Timothy was wholly devoted to the working relationship between bond servants and masters, or in our case, employees and bosses.

Sometimes the fact that chapters and verses have been added to scripture creates a disconnect between thoughts.  For example I have never connected Paul's exhortation that the love of money is the root of all evil with the tension that is created between the employee who has little and the boss who is wealthy.  Yet when chapter six is read allowed the correlation is clearly understood because verse three joins the first two verses with the rest of the chapter.

For today, simply read the chapter out loud  as one continuous thought and see if it broadens your understanding of the text..

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Difficult Place to Be In

"Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort" (1 Timothy 6:1-2).

Translate masters as bosses and servants as employees and you will see the application in your own life. I find it difficult to serve others who speak condescendingly to me.  My flesh wants to tell them off, to put them in their place, but there is a paycheck to consider.  It is not enough to hold our tongues because of pay checks.  What is in our hearts will spill out our mouths.

So God allows us to continue to serve under pressure, because he is working on changing our hearts and those of our bosses.  I am reminded of Isaiah's prophecy.

"I will go before you.  I will make the crooked places straight.  I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.  I will give you the treasures of darkness, the hidden riches of secret places, that you may know, I The Lord who calls you by your name am the God of Israel" ( Isaiah 45:2-3).



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hidden Treasures

Paul said that good works, like sins, are sometimes obvious and at other times take a while to discover (1 Timothy 5:24-25, 5:22).  An elder sister in my father's church used to fall asleep often during services.  After you got to know her you learned that she spent most of the night praying for her family, her church, and her friends.  It was no surprise that she fell asleep.

Some individuals suffer from shyness.  They are tormented from the fear of being rejected, but their hearts are pure gold.  Judging from their aloofness, many have judged them as snobs and unfriendly.  On the contrary, they are some of the most loving, caring people you will ever meet.

It takes time and effort to truly know someone.  Ask The Lord about reaching out to someone new this Christmas season.  Spend time getting to know that shy person that lives on the outskirts of your fellowship.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Marked Fragile

I have met individuals who emanate pride or fear, or evil.  The immediate reaction is to back away and not trust the person.  I have met others who  are overwhelmingly kind, friendly and personal who later cause much division and strife among friends, coworkers and church members.

Paul warns Timothy,"The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden" (1 Timothy 5:24-25, 5:22).

Does this mean we trust no one?  No.  It does mean we need to deal honestly and without favoritism with all persons, so that regardless of the other person's motives we walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ).  Trust is not automatic.  It is an earned privilege.  Like glass it is easily broken and difficult to repair.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Other People's Sins

Note that Paul associates laying on of hands too hastily with participating in other people's sins (1 Timothy 5:22).  Verses 24 and 25 shed further light on Paul's meaning.  When we give someone spiritual authority over a congregation we are either participating in blessing those people or we are bringing harm to them.  If the person is of God, we are participating in blessing the flock.  If the person is not either ready for ministry or is a self willed person, then we are participating in his sin.

This same principle applies to personal relationships.  We need to love freely but be cautious with whom we join ourselves.  Healthy friendships are built over time.  Whirlwind romance or friendships often lead to painful endings.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wolves and Sheep

"Do not lay hands on anyone quickly, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourselves pure" (1 Timothy 5:22, 4:14).

In my former denomination the congregation voted in their pastors.  The deacons interviewed applicants from across the nation, then choose whom they thought would be an excellent pastor.  There would be a meet and greet meeting on a Saturday evening.  Then the candidate would preach Sunday morning and Sunday evening.  That same night the congregation would vote.  Often the new pastor fit the congregation, but there were times when things did not turn out as well as expected.

In the first century, a man or woman proved themselves to be worthy of ministry long before being given the responsibility to pastor part of God's flock.  The people knew the individual, his or her quirks, philosophy and habits.  There were no surprises.  Paul is warning Timothy and us to be careful who we give spiritual responsibility.  It takes time to recognize wolves in sheep's clothing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's Who You Know

Our tendency to show favoritism often stems from a leaning toward greed.  We think our preferential treatment of  the wealthy or powerful may result in personal gain.  As the American saying expresses, "It's not what you know but who you know that counts."

We are to imitate Christ and our Heavenly Father (Romans 8:29; 1Corinthians 11:1 ; Matthew 5:45).   God shows his mercy on all, rich, poor, just and unjust and his judgement on all who do not repent from evil, his child or his enemy (Ezekiel 33; Hebrews 10:26-31).

If we are to be a faithful steward of God's message, then we are to treat the poor and the wealthy, the powerful and the ditch digger with equal respect, sharing the message of God's redemptive power in our actions as well as our words (1 Timothy 5:21).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Trained to Hate Christmas

My husband hated Christmas when We were first married.  Eventually the monster cookies, the Christmas Carols, the presents and the Christ Child won him over.  Now he loves Christmas.

His hatred of Christmas stemmed from his parents giving presents to his sisters, but nothing to him.  They always said, "you understand."  Of course he had no idea what he was supposed to understand.  One sister was older and one was younger, so age of the child did not hold the secret.  He had an older brother who died on Christmas Eve, perhaps that memory was somehow associated I his mother's mind with not giving her living son a present.  Whatever the reason, the favoritism toward his sisters worked death to the heart of a little boy.

Favoritism is condemned in the scriptures.  We are to deal fairly with each individual.  To do any differently comes to evil (1 Timothy 5:21; James 2:1-7).

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Stolen Parsonage

Years ago a man came to pastor our little church in the country.  The tiny congregation had saved enough money to put a down payment on trailer they extended as a parsonage for a pastor.  This new minister immediately began removing volunteers and taking over all responsibilities.  He not only told the volunteer janitor he was not needed, but told the volunteer secretary her services were not wanted.

The result?  There was no longer any accountability for the pastor.  Within a year he resigned and the church was left with an empty bank account. There was no longer any money for a parsonage.

Yes, sometimes ministers must be confronted, and Paul tells us it must be done in public (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Talking Sheep

Timothy is instructed to beware when someone accuses a Bishop or Pastor.  He must not consider it unless there are at minimum two to three witnesses.  Is it because ministers are less likely to fail or that they get more passes than lay people?  No, it is because leaders are in the limelight and are the most obvious targets for anyone who has a habit of judging others.

Pastor and Bishops become targets because they speak the truth and correction.  Human nature does not like to be corrected and often lashes out at anyone who tries to attempts it (John 7:6-7).

Leaders are not here to please, but to love and speak truth.  If we lead honestly we will make some people happy and some people upset.  It is part of the human experience.  It stands to reason then, that we as members of a flock avoid listening to or spreading negative talk about our leaders (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Pastor and the Ox

I know of a wealthy man who is plotting to reduce the pay of middle class workers when there is no financial need to do so.  This man has the reputation of being a kind of slave driver to his immigrant workers.  Yet he spends his time poking around town in shops and caf├ęs joining in gossip and destructive rumors. It is difficult to understand such behavior.

Many who would detest this man's behavior would still expect a person in full time ministry to remain at or below poverty level.  God says we treat oxen better than that.

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

The minister is worthy of full time good pay with benefits.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Words that Bite

We have said that it is not sinful for a widow to remarry, but there is more to Paul's warning about young widows.  Some younger women become restless and spend their time visiting friends instead of working (1 Timothy 5:11-13).  The idle life leads to idle gossip (2 Peter 5:13).  Peter joins Paul in warning against such spreading of negative news (1Peter 4:15).

That kind of sharing does not please God.  The book of Ephesians gives us a standard for speech.  "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).

   I have been taught and learned from experience that though we think the person we are sharing with is trustworthy, and they may be,  our negative words tend to come back to bite us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Breaking Vows

Paul writes, "for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith" (1 Timothy 5:11). This not only sounds harsh, it seems to contradict what he wrote to the Roman believers that a widow can remarry (Romans 7:1-4).  Therefore we must look more closely at what he said to Timothy.

A couple of days ago, we referred to Anna who as an example of a widow being supported by the church.  Her entire life was dedicated to service in the temple ( Luke 2:36).  We are instructed in the book of Ecclesiastes that we should be careful that we do not break a vow to God and incur judgement  (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7).

So Paul is not restricting young widows from marrying, in fact he says specifically that they should marry in (1 Timothy 5:14). He is reasoning that young women still have a desire to marry which will most likely result in breaking their vow to remain single.  Therefore they should never make such a vow.

When Paul writes "They have cast off their first faith" he is not referring to the faith if salvation, but refers to the faith of their vow to remain single.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What About Young Widows

We said yesterday for the younger women to turn to family for support instead of the church (1 Timothy 5:3,9).  Two reactions spring to mind.  Does this mean the church is not supposed to help young widows?  And, What if her father or family refuse to support her?

Let's be clear, on the first question, Paul's instructions do not mean that the church does not help the young widow with food or clothing.  Paul is referring to the custom of widows living in the church, and the church being their sole support, similar to Anna who met Mary and Joseph in the temple (Luke 2:36-38).

As to the family who refuses to support a relative who is a young widow, Paul writes, "But if anyone does not provide for his own , and especially from his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Qualifying for Support

Paul gives detailed instructions to the church concerning widows.  Women who have lost their husbands, who are sixty years old or more, who have no adult children who can take her into their home, and who live a righteous life are to be supported by the body of Christ (2:36).

There are few women who meet these qualification.  Most have children who can take care of them in their elder years.

The hours in grief seem endless to those who have family, can you imagine that kind of suffering with no one to express compassion for you?  A widow finds all that has become life to her has vanished in a moment.  Often married friends forget her.  The single women already have friendships built and unintentionally leave her out.

 Pray about befriending one of the widows who attend your church.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rebuke or Exhort

The tone of our voice reflects the meditations of our heart. Let's use the brief inquiry, "What's the matter with you?" You can ask with sincere concern because someone is ill, or you can ask out of frustration that a person is not doing what you want him or her to do. Or take the sentence "Where are you going?" It can be asked out of polite curiosity, as when someone has told you he is going on a vacation, or it can be asked in anger when he is leaving the room in the middle of an argument.

Paul is making that kind of a distinction between a rebuke and an exhortation. A rebuke means to criticize sharply. To exhort is to give warnings or appeals. Paul tells Timothy that we must not rebuke an elder man, a younger man, a elder woman or a younger woman. In other words we are to speak to everyone as close family members whom we love (1 Timothy 5:1).


It is a wise person who shows respect when it is necessary to confront someone.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Constant Communication

The fourth chapter of Timothy contains warnings against doctrines of demons, hypocrisy, and deceitful spirits. Paul then gives clear instructions how to avoid these evils, by studying, practicing, and exhorting the Word of God.

The chapter ends with a summery, "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:16).

Keeping a close watch on ourselves takes effort and constant communication with God. We all have people whom we influence and who influence us. Our beliefs have a far greater significance than most of us realize.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Faulty Methods

Paul later writes to Timothy, "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word if truth" (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:13).

It is imperative that we study the context of any given principle in God's word. For example John chapters 14-16 say numerous times that we can ask what we will, and the Father will give it to us. Many believers interpret those promises based on our present culture and not on the context of the entire teaching of those three chapters. They wrongfully conclude that we could ask for anything that fulfills our desires and receive it.

Reading the entire three chapters as a unit, the way Jesus spoke it, we learn that the "anything" relates to bearing spiritual fruit in the midst of tribulation (John 14:13; 27; 15:1-5, 8, 16, 18, 20; 16:1-4, 24-33).

Friday, November 15, 2013

Miniature Theologians

Devote your self to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13). Does this mean we must all be theologians? What exactly does doctrine mean and what is a theologian?

Doctrine is ": a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief". In our context, doctrine is the underlining principles found in the truth of God's word, (I.e. Jesus is always with us { Matthew 28:20}).

A theologian is one who " studies religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God's relation to the world". We may not earn a living as a theologian, but all believers need to practice our faith in daily living and meditate on God's involvement in our daily lives.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

First Graders

When I was a teenager, I taught a class of first graders. One Sunday with great enthusiasm I was teaching the story if Noah. The kids were on the edge of their seats staring up at me. It crossed my mind, "I'm good at this." A child raised his hand. When I called on him he said, "Teacher you're spitting on me!"

I learned several lessons from that little boy, not the least of which was the dangers of pride.

As we prepare and exhort others, we learn in a minimum of three ways. We learn from our study. We learn while we are teaching, and we learn from those who respond to our exhortation. The act of organizing our thoughts so that we are able to express them to others is a great teacher (1 Timothy 4:13).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Devoted to a Exhortation

Paul instructs Timothy To devote himself to exhortation. All who are called to teach must likewise devote themselves to exhortation. But there are two ways to view that instruction. One is to exhort others. If Timothy is called to minister, he must exhort.

But it could also mean to devote one's self to receiving exhortation. We must have teachable spirits if we are to teach others. As Paul wrote just a few sentences later, "for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Devote - to Commit by a Solemn Act

Reading scripture takes priority over reading other books. God's Word gives us direction, correction and protection (Psalm 1; 119:105; Proverbs 1:1-5; 2Timothy 3:16).

Our physical bodies cannot survive without food and liquid, neither can our spirits survive without God's a Word and obedience to his voice.

Paul told Timothy to devote himself to reading scripture (1 Timothy 4:13). Can we do any less?


Monday, November 11, 2013

Climbing Mountains

The standard by which all other readings are measured is the Holy Scripture. If an author makes a statement that either has no scriptural backing, or the way the author applies a scripture is weak, then proceed only with great caution. If the book denies Jesus is Lord and has come in the flesh, dispose of the book.

I heard a friend say to a group of ladies the other day, "Women, be patient. Remember what the Buddhists say, 'One mountain, many path's'". I quickly responded, "You just have to make sure you are on the right mountain."

What my friend said had a measure if truth. But the saying can lead to deception, because it teaches all religions lead to God. Jesus said he is only one way to go to the Heavenly Father (John 14:6), and only if the Father draws him (John 6:43). The good news is, there is a measure in which The Father draws each of us (John 1:4-5,9; 3:16; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9).

The point is we must know the scripture if we are to use it as a measure. So above all other reading, read the Bible. Then read other Christian authors.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Reading

I knew a young woman devoted to The Lord who refused to read any other book than the Bible. She did not want to be influenced by anyone else's ideas but depended solely on her personal understanding of God's Word. Her intention was good, but her reasoning was faulty. Taking her reasoning to the logical end, she would have to stop having conversations with others, because we are all influenced by people with whom we interact on a regular basis.

God is the author of the gift of being able to express ideas in writing. Paul wrote to Timothy to bring his books to him that he had left at a friend's house (2 Timothy 5:14; 1 Timothy 4:13). Paul read books in addition to the scriptures; the scriptures always remaining the governing authority.

Indeed, we need to be careful of which authors we choose to read. We must look up any scriptures referenced to make sure the understandings expressed are consistent with the Word of God. But is the Holy Spirit not able to cause us to recognize false teaching? Is God unable to speak through other people into our lives? Isn't refusing to read Christian authors equivalent to rejecting one of God's gifts to the body (1 Corinthians 12:15-28)?

Pray before, during and after reading, but read.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three Tasks



Remember Eve's temptation and failure? She went to the forbidden tree and was focusing on it (Genesis 3:6). Remember Abraham obeying God, packing up his wife and servants and heading to a foreign land? His focus was on God's ability to sustain him (Hebrews 6:13-15, 11:8-12). Victory or failure depends on whether we look to ourselves or to God for wisdom.

If we want to be effective leaders, whether to individuals or as pastors of congregations, we must maintain a regular study of God and his word. Paul gives us three priorities; reading, exhortation, and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13). We will be looking at each of these.

The amount of time set aside to these tasks will vary depending on individual circumstances. The woman who works a full time job and has a toddler cannot devote the same amount of time to these as the woman who has retired and has no children at home. The man who works a full time job and has a young family cannot devote as much time as a full time pastor. Noting this, we all need to make time to include these tasks on a regular schedule.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our Megaphone

Paul writes to Timothy that we are to be examples of purity. Simply put, we are to live lives that honor God and are worthy of our calling (1 Timothy 4:12; Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 4:10).

A king's scepter was a symbol of his authority. It symbolizes the quality of character of the king such as the Hana-sceptre, the shepherd's staff. The hook at the top symbolizing the rescuing a sheep from wondering or pulling it out of brushes in which it had fallen. The straight part of the staff used to beat the enemies of the sheep.

Jesus was called the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20), but the scepter of his kingdom is Righteousness (Hebrews 1:8). He came to deliver us from the power of sin in our lives (Romans 7:14-8:4), that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6-7).

Our purity must be visible to everyone around us. Our actions speak so loudly that words are often drowned out.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Evidence and Substance

Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen," and we are to be examples of this faith (Hebrew 11:1; 1 Timothy 4:12).

The child awakens in the morning to the sound of someone in the kitchen. The aroma of bacon wafts through the house as he throws off the bed covers and nearly skips to the breakfast table. Mom had promised his favorite pancakes, eggs and bacon, the evidence of which he detected in the sounds and smells. The substance of his faith in his mother's promise was his unusually quick dispense of warm cozy blankets and bare feet on the floor as he ran to greet his mother.

The bride stands in front of the full length mirror while the last if the pearl buttons down the back of her lace gown are closed by the matron if honor. The hair dresser pushes one stray hair back into place. The Bride's smile is radiant. She is getting married to the man if her dreams. The substance of her faith in his promise to marry her is the gown, the wedding party, the invitations and the arrangements. The evidence of his promise are the months or years of consistent words and actions of love, his continued proclamations of the same and sound if his voice in the sanctuary. She is getting married today.

Our faith is not blind faith. It is based on the evidence of God that surrounds us and his continual rescuing us from temptations. The substance of our faith is our obedience and the consistent comfort of his presence.

We exemplify this by our choices in trusting him.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Faith Never Stands Alone

Paul writes that we are to be examples of faith. This word is one of the most used words, second to love, and is one of the most distorted words. The world uses faith as though faith in and for anything is sufficient. They teach doctrines of demands so that faith in any god or faith in self, or just faith that things will work themselves out is all that is needed. They teach that faith alone is the virtue.

But when Paul talks about faith, he is not speaking of faith disjointed from any object of faith. He is referring to faith in the only true God and Jesus Christ whom God sent (John 17:3). It is faith that God himself will cause things to work out that we are to be exemplify ( Romans 8:28-29; Hebrews 13:20-21).

How can we be examples of faith? Most often it is through trials that people observe our faith. The author of Hebrews writes, "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, observing the outcome of their conduct. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:7-8).

We demonstrate faith through actions (Hebrews 11; James 2:18-26).

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Giving Away What We Don't Have

We are to be examples to believers in love, in spirit, it faith, in purity (1Timothy 4:12). We have been discussing love, now we will look at spirit. Many modern translations leave out the word spirit. However it appears in the word for word translations. So we will include it in our study.

"In spirit" some take to mean behavior. But that does not make sense, because the phrase "be an example" already implies behavior. One author of a Biblical commentary wrote that spirit meant enthusiasm. That would certainly make sense in our American culture, but I have doubts that Paul means we should have "team spirit" as those who watch their baseball team playing on the field.

I believe "in spirit" refers more to our character. In modern language we may say, "She has a purity of humility about her" or "He has a spirit of a servant about him." In other words, he or she is literal a humble person.

We are not to strive to be examples of love, faith and purity without those qualities being in us. We cannot give away what we do not have.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Love in Daily Living

Jesus is our example of what love looks like in day to day living. He was kind even to his enemies exemplified by washing Judas' feet (John 13:2-27). Yet he spoke plainly to his enemies about their faults as we hear in his conversations with the Pharisees (John 9:39-41).

He obeyed the laws (Matthew 22:15-21). He honored the poor (Matthew 19:29; Mark 12:42-44). Yet he never forgot who he was ( John 12:8; 13:3-5; 16:28). He did not take the praise of men to his heart (John 2:23-25; 6:14-15).

He responded kindly to those who came to him with pure hearts and was direct to those who tried to trap him (John 8:1-11). He sought out the outcast of society (John 4), and answered honest questions of the wealthy (John 3:1-21; 20:38-40).

In other words, love is not deceptive, manipulative or blind.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We Define Love

As we have been discussing, we are to be examples in love, faith and purity. It is important that we understand each of this, because Satan distorts truth even in definitions of words.

When a husband beats or strikes his wife, it is not an act of love. When a parent demeans a child to control him if her, it us not an act of love. When a friend speaks evil behind a person's back, it is not love. When we act out of self interest in a way that harms others, it is not love.

If we say love is giving things to others or physically dying for another person, we may still be wrong because such things can be done without love but a sense of duty (1 Corinthians 13). Paul defines love as, patient, kind, not self focused, does not envy, does not continually talk about personal achievements, not easily provoked and does not think evil of others. It does not rejoice in wrong doing, but does rejoice in the truth. It bears all things. It believes all things. It practices hope in all things. It endures all things. And yes, the greatest act of love is dying for a friend (John 15:13).

Today we pray that God will manifest himself to others through his love being displayed in us.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Failing a Test of Patience

Ministers, young and old, male or female, whether lay ministers or pastors of churches, we are called to be examples to one another. Our way of speaking, the type of language, our tone and attitude and our conduct should all reflect love, faith and purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

It sounds sweet, but it is sometimes difficult when others are speaking to us with contempt or disrespectful. Our human nature is to defend ourselves, and that is necessary at times. But when it is, we remain committed to reflect love, faith and integrity.

If we fail, as I have, at times most miserably, God remains faithful to teach us through patient discipline to be more and more like his Son (Romans 8:28-29; Hebrew 12:1-11). And when our hearts condemn us, or the enemy accuses us, God is greater than both of them (1 John 3:20).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Young Preachers

We are exhorted not to despise someone's youth (1 Timothy 4:12; 1 John 2:14). In other words, we are not to be dismissive of young people whom God has called to teach. Understanding of truth comes from the Father (Matthew 16:16-17).

If we are young, we are also instructed not to despise the elderly but to learn from them (1Timothy 5:1-2; Titus 2:1-6).

God chooses whom he will use, how he will use and when he will use.

Do not doubt God's calling. Be obedient whether you are young or old.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Investing in Stocks

Imagine you have received a large inheritance but it was stipulated in the will that the only way to receive the money was by investing it into the stock market within two weeks. The benefactor also stipulated that all money must be invested in only one of two stocks and must remain in the stock for one year before it can be sold for cash value.

One stock has gained wealth in the millions, but showed signs of crashing. It could happen in the next twenty four hours or remain stable for several months. The other stock had showed slow but steady growth since it's inception, but was guaranteed to spike drastically in the next twenty four hours.

Which stock would you choose?

Peter writes " But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,... (2 Peter 2:10-13).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's the Profit?

Paul writes "...godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (1 Timothy 4:8). We know that the eternal profit of godliness is spending eternity in the presence of our precious brother and Savior Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father God with his Holy Spirit.

But does not godliness bring us sorrow on earth? It was because of the preaching of the gospel that the deciples were persecuted and eventually murdered. Does not abstaining from gossip, political dishonesty and manipulation cause us to be excluded from many positions of power. Does not godliness cause persecution in today's society? Is not the persecutions of Christians around the world increasing, even in America, because of standing up for righteousness? How then is godliness profitable for life here?

Godliness produces a clear conscience, which increases restful sleep. A life consistent in godliness avoids being torn between two political foes, being trapped in our own lies, protects against suspicion and distrust because people know we will always tell the truth. Godliness through faith in Jesus builds endurance, endurance builds character, character builds hope for the future because the Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:3-5).

No, godliness does not guarantee profit in things of the world, but it always ends in peace of mind for the believer and great spiritual gain.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two exercises

In America there is a lot of talk about exercise, though the general public does more talking about it than doing it. Exercise tones the muscles, pumps oxygen throughout your veins and help fight off colds and flus and various illnesses. It may not cause us to live longer, but it will help us enjoy the remaining years we have left on this earth.

However, when we die, our bodies will decay, whether we exercised or not.

Godliness is exceedingly more beneficial. It not only sustains us in this earthly body, it has the benefit of eternal rewards. As Paul puts it, "bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 5:14, 12:10-11).

I am grateful God has given us both gifts.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sources of Strength

Several years ago, While at work my head began to feel like it was in a vice. My stomach felt nauseous and my limbs were weak. I kept working, hoping and praying that I was not getting sick. When noon arrived we all went to the lunch room. As I began to eat the vegetables I had made for lunch, I could literally feel strength coming back into my limbs. My head stopped hurting, and my stomach settled down. I had not realized how long I had gone without eating.

We can have the same experience spiritually. We do not realize how long it has been since we spent time talking and listening to God or sat down to absorb his Word. Paul writes to Timothy that we are nourished through words of faith and good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6).

There is great strength in solid doctrine. There is sweet comfort in words of faith. Let's share those with one another today.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Table is Set

I have heard testimonies from missionaries and those in prison for the sake of the gospel. Whatever their individual sufferings, there is one thing most hold in common. The captors feed them sparingly, if at all. The food has often been rancid and sometimes contained worms. Other times it had poor nourishment having been watered down so much that it barely held flavor of any sort.

In each of these stories, though the believer may have struggled with fear and anger, he or she learned to give thanks to God for what they received. In many cases the prisoner remained healthy despite poor nourishment. Much like the believers in Hebrew chapter eleven, others did not receive deliverance but suffered malnutrition. But in all cases, they testify of the grace and love of Christ as he poured out blessing into their spirits even in the presence of their enemies.

It is important to give thanks for our food, not glibly, not with resentment, but with gratefulness for what God has chosen to set before us (1 Timothy 4:4).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Godly Grocery Shopping

Paul wrote concerning food that "everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer" (1Timothy 4:3-5). Does this mean we are free to eat every kind of food regardless of its origin? Does this free us from any responsibility concerning the kinds of foods we put into our bodies?

Notice first that Paul said "everything God created is good", implying all thongs God created for food is good. What did God create for food? Meat is given to us to eat (Deuteronomy 12:15; Acts 10:10-16). He has also given every plant and fruit that yields seed for food (Genesis 3:29). Yet some trees are not for food (Deuteronomy 20:20). (Can you imagine putting pine needles on top of your cake, or chomping down on a salad of poison oak?).

All foods are lawful for us to eat, but not all foods are healthy for our bodies. An excellent guideline is moderation (1 Corinthians 6:12-13). But whatever we choose to eat, we need to always give thanks (1 Corinthians 4:4).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Many Paths to Death: One Path to God

Not every teaching that names Jesus is of God. There are lying spirits which use religion to kill and destroy. Many of us know of the crusades when men and women were tortured to give up one religion for another. We know on modern religions which require hatred against others. There are many false gods whose worship requires severe self inflicted wounds or deprive children of nourishment. There are those who devote themselves to angels, philosophies, sectarianism, and boast in themselves.

All of these reject Jesus' claim, "I am the way, the Truth and Life. No one comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6) and "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is a gift from God; not of works lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8).

We also need to remember faith produces works (Hebrew 11:6). Works do not produce faith.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

God Reliant

At the core of every demonic doctrine is the rejection of God's gifts and commands in exchange for the reliance on self. It began in the heavens with Satan's rebellion against God, spread to some of the angels, then was perpetrated by demonic forces on the earth (Isaiah 14:12-14; 2 Peter 2:4; Genesis 3:4-6).

We need a savior. We have all rebelled against the Truth (Romans 3:23). All of us, more than once in our lives, have chosen our own way above his (Romans 3:12). But God took on the form of man so that he might take our punishment upon himself (Hebrews 1; John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

He has made us into new men and women (2 Corinthians 5:17) and has given us his Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12). We are not ashamed of the gospel because it holds the power to free each person from their bondage (Romans 1:16). We are not self reliant (1 Peter 5:5). We are God reliant (2 Corinthians 1:10).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Doctrines of Demons

The letter to Timothy warns that in the last days people will commit themselves to demonic spirits and doctrines of demons. What examples of these doctrines are you seeing?

Part of yoga teaches that a person's core strength is more than muscles in the belly built up from exercise. It is the inner person that draws on internal strength that is truly centered. When something is truly strong at its core, it is unshakable.

There is some truth in that saying, but their source is off. Depending on one's self to remain unshakable is like depending on the ocean to remain calm forever (Genesis 3;5-6; James 1:2-6; Isaiah 57:20-21). Our stability comes from depending on God (Psalm 1; Hebrews 12:25-29).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Soon?

Scripture speaks of a great falling away from the truth in the last days before Jesus returns to judge the world. People will become obsessed with self worship, forbid marriage, and will devote themselves to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (1Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9).

This was hard to imagine in my mother's childhood. At that time in America, everyone knew about God whether they worshiped him or not. People felt guilty about not going to church. When you said you were a Christian, everyone knew what to expect from you. The standards were high and people who said they were Christians, but did not live like Christ, were called hypocrites.

Now, just within the last fifty years, church attendance has dropped drastically. Active Christianity is often ridiculed in the media and respect of the Bible is rare. People call themselves Christians who never darken the doors of a church, live lives contrary to
God's specific commands, rarely, if ever, read the Bible and expect to go to heaven. Others devote themselves to eastern religions, spending years studying ancient writings that teach we are all gods.

These indeed are the Last Days. Remember, Christ will return when the world least expects him (Luke 12:40-48; 2 Peter 3:4).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Power if His Resurrection

"Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).


We live godly lives through the power of His resurrection.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Walk the Talk

A buttress is a projecting structure of wood or masonry that supports a wall or building. The broadened base of a tree is a kind of buttress to keep the tree from falling. Paul writes that those who belong to God are a pillar and buttress for the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

People do not generally read the Bible, but they often read Christians. What knowledge are they gaining about God from observing your life (Hebrews 13:7-8)? Are contributing to the continuance of truth, or are the destruction of it in your world?

Ask God for the wisdom, boldness and strength you need. He will give it to you. Then walk and speak as God's representative.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Receiving Bold Faith

Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience and remaining faithful in all things deacons and their wives gain boldness in the faith (1 Timothy 3:7-13). Remaining steadfast in our faith no matter what the circumstances, produces even mor faith because our experience with God's deliverance increases with each trial (Romans 5:3-5; 1 Peter 1:7, 4:12-14).

Our struggles may be painful, but learning through remaining faithful produces an inner peaceful righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).

One of the first deacons appointed in the Bible was Steven. He was a faith filled and faithful man, who was filled with the Holy Spirit. Though his job was waiting tables (acts 6:1-3) God worked signs and wonders through him (Acts 6:8). He was so bold in his faith that he caught the attention of the enemies of Christ. They eventually put him to death (Acts chapter 7).

This world is not our home (Hebrews 11:13-16). We are Ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom sent to bring the message of that citizenship ( 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 2:19-22); 1 Peter 2:9).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Called to Serve

A deacon has the same qualifications as a Bishop. A deacon must be sober minded, not double tongued, not given to wine, not greedy but "holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Timothy 3:8-9). The deacon must first prove himself called to the position by taking on those type of responsibilities without the title (1 Timothy 3:10). He must have one wife and be in control of the children who live in the home (3:12).

Not only is the deacon under these commands, but his wife must also meet the standards (1 Timothy 3:11).

Did you know these high standards were required in order to wait on and serve people who sat at tables eating a meal? That's right. The first deacons were a kind of waiter. Luke wrote about it in Acts chapter six. Deacons were appointed to wait on tables and to make sure everyone was treated fairly.

Here is the message to us. No task is more important than another. We are all called to the highest of standards. We are all ministers, representatives of Christ, whatever our function in his body.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Under a Microscope

We know that the Pharisees set up traps for Jesus on a regular basis (Matthew 12:10; Luke 11:54, 23:2; John 8:6). Yet no one was able to truthfully convict him of wrong doing (John 8:46). So a pastor or bishop must have a good reputation outside the church as well as inside the church (1 Timothy 3:7).

If you find yourself in a situation were individuals are examining your work under a microscope in an effort to find errors, it can be unnerving. Feelings of anger or resentment can seep across your emotions. It is unfortunate that some people thrive on searching for wrong doing and seem to take pleasure in stirring things up. As followers of Christ, we must expect this to happen sooner or later (John 15:18-20).

Our responsibility is to remain faithful in our tasks (Isaiah 30:21; Jeremiah 7:23; Colossians 1:10, 2:6-7; Ephesians 4:1, 5:8). My temptation is to become defensive, but scripture teaches us, "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility:for God resists the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

An Appropriate Age

I had a son who was tall and stout for his age. His older brother tended toward the smaller side during the developing years. Often people mistook the younger son as the older one and were surprised when his behavior was that of a two year old, and not a four year old.

The community of believers can make the same mistake. They note a teenager that displays evidence of maturity beyond his or her years. The pressure builds to give that individual more and more responsibility until the young person begins to either buckle under the pressure and give up all together, or become filled with pride, looking down on others.

It is good to give young people responsibilities. At the age of twelve I started teaching six to eight year olds after church so their parents could spend time at the altar praying. It would not have been appropriate for me to teach adults (1 Timothy 3:6; 1 Peter 5:5-6).

We must follow godly principles in recognizing leaders.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Six Year Old Pastor

Growing up there were several celebrities who became Christians. The religious community paraded the new converts like trophies in a display case. The emphases on their fame overshadowed their need as new believers to learn and grow. As a consequence many fell back into previous sin. Their experience with believers was in essence the same as with unbelievers, the main purpose was to make the most use of them.

Paul warns Timothy, "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6). When someone first comes to Christ, they need to grow in faith and knowledge. We would not expect a six year old to pastor a church, why would we put a new born babe in Christ in that position?

A few sentences later Paul writes, "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless" (1 Timothy 3:10). If this holds true for deacons, it holds true fir Bishops (pastors). Help the spiritual child grow into leadership if that is indeed what God has gifted him or her with.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lessons in a Waiting Room

My office window opens into a waiting room where families often come to receive assistance. Some children are well behaved. Others are climbing on chairs, chasing each other around the room, screaming and generally causing chaos. The difference in the children reflects the consistency of the parents.

Some parents consistently teach and discipline their children so that they understand how to behave in public and to respect others. Other parents consistently ignore their children's poor behavior not wanting to spend the energy it takes to teach young hearts correct behaviors. The results are extremely predictable. The unruly child becomes the unruly teenage, who becomes the unruly adult, who will struggle with authority, often spending time in jail.

Paul writes, "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (1 Timothy 3:5).

Being a bishop or pastor requires commitment to speak the truth and to enforce spiritual discipline when necessary (Matthew 18:15-20). If the minister is more interested in maintaining popularity than shepherding the flock, the sheep will not mature properly. Their relationship with God will suffer (1 Corinthians 5:1-11).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cancer of the Soul

Why does Paul pose greed against patience (1 Timothy 3:3)? A strong desire to continually gain more possessions colors an individual's character. The focus on earthly things leads to deceiving others, dishonesty and watering down the truth to gain favor.

Sermons may be maneuvered to influence people to give more, rather than speaking truth. This is sometimes done by continual badgering, but more often than not, in America, it is done by preaching prosperity and not the gospel of repentance and changed behavior.

The desire for wealth can lead to dishonesty. The individual is not willing to wait for the possession by working and saving, but may stoop to stealing, may become resentful toward those more fortunate, or sharp and dismissive to those who do not have wealth.

Greed is like a silent cancer that eats away at patience and destroys the soul.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Behaviors

Paul lists five behaviors that disqualify a person from the position of a Bishop or pastor. A pastor must not be an alcoholic, greedy, one who gets into fist fights, not one who strikes out in anger and not a covetous person (1 Timothy 3:3).

Alcohol blurs the thinking process so that sound judgement is lost (Proverbs 23:19-21, 29-35). The greedy person discards the life of others ( Proverbs 1:19), he brings trouble to his own home (Proverbs 15:27), and they never have enough (Isaiah 56:11). A person who tends to be angry makes foolish decisions (Proverbs 14:17) is unpleasant to live with (Proverbs 21:19) and has a negative impact on everyone around him or her ( Proverbs 22:24-25).

The last negative characteristic, covetousness, may be the worst, because God abhors the covetous (Proverbs 10:3), and those who live a life of coveting will not enter into Christ's kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:10; Ephesians 5:5).

If we do not want pastors to be these things, should not we avoid them as well?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Five Characteristics

If a man desires to be a Bishop (pastor of a church) he desires a good work (1 Timothy 3:1). It is a privilege and honor when God calls men to shepherd his flock (John 21:15-17; Hebrew 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25, 5:4). It also carries a great responsibility.

Teachers receive a greater judgement (Jeremiah 50:6-7; Ezekiel 34:7-10; James 3:1). They must give an answer to God for what they teach (Hebrews 13:17; Ezekiel 13:7-9). Their lives must be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:1-7) meaning no one can honestly say his life does not reflect Christ and His message.

He must be "vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (1 Timothy 3:2). These five qualities alone exclude some from the office of Bishop. When God has called a man to this ministry, the sheep will know his calling by these characteristics.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Four Gifts

Women are to continue in "Faith, Love, and holiness, with self control" (1 Timothy 2:15).

Faith - the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus gives us faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Love - God is love and love is from God (1 John 4:7-8).

Holiness - No one can see God without holiness (Hebrews 12:14).

Self control - Self control is given to us by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

These are precious gifts from God to us. We need to guard against envy or jealousy of another person's ministry or position within the body. God chooses ministry for each person. To rebel against authority, is to rebel against God (John 3:26-27; Romans 13:1-2; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11).

Jesus is himself God and yet was in submission to God the Father, (Hebrew 1:1-8, Philippians 2:5-9). Is it not an honor to represent Jesus by being submissive to those is authority over us?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Unfair Rulers

We are given guidelines or principles to follow. As children of God we submit to those in authority unless it is in direct conflict with God's Word. Paul wrote that women submit to their husbands as to The Lord. If what we are directed or asked to do conflicts with God's principles, we submit to God, the higher authority than our husbands (Ephesians 5:11, 22).

There are times when a woman must leave her husband for safety reasons, but normally she must remain (1 Corinthians 7:11-12). Some husbands are from such a complete different background than that of the spouse, that the couple do not understand one another. The husband can come across as dismissive. Paul gives instructions to all people who find themselves under unfair leadership. They must obey, remembering they are actually serving God (1 Peter 2:18-3:7, 12, Ephesians 6:9).

It is much easier to serve when we focus on the leaderships' needs, rather than on our own. There is a reason he or she is responding unfairly. Concentrate on asking the Lord to change your heart so that you can lovingly serve them. But also remember, though Jesus was submissive to authority, he never compromised the truth.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Women in Leadership

Paul gives three reasons for the man to be the spiritual leader in the home. 1) Adam was created before Eve. 2) Eve was deceive. 3) Adam was not deceived.

Their sin, rebellion against God's command not to eat of the tree, had separate origins. Eve was fooled by the appearance of the tree and its fruit, while Adam knowingly disobeyed (Genesis 3:6). If men should be leaders in the home because they are not as easily fooled as women are, would not this apply to leadership roles as well? So how can a woman be a leader in the church? A deacon? A minister? Would it be worse for a woman to lead an entire church astray than the rebellion be limited to a single household?

That kind of reasoning subtly teaches that women cannot help but be deceived, as though there is no hope for women. However scripture gives examples of women in teaching and ministry positions women like Timothy's mother and grand mother, Phobie, a deaconess, Prescilla instructor of Appolos and the churches of the Gentiles, Junias, an Apostle and Euodia and Syntyche whom ministered along side Paul (2 Timothy 1:5; Romans 16:1-6; Philiappians 4:3).

The warning remains that as women, we have a tendency toward being fooled by appearances. As leaders we must remain in submission to those in leadership over us, including our husbands (Ephesians 5:15-21; 1 Peter 3:5).

Friday, September 20, 2013

Inequality vs Authority

"Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self- control" (1 Timothy 2:12-15).

These are some of the most debated scriptures in America. Our culture taught for centuries that women are less intellectual and of less value than men. Then women's suffrage became an organized movement and women gained the right to vote. Since then women have become leaders in both for-profit business and in government. Each generation gives less and less credence to Paul's exhortation to Timothy.

As we said the last time, we know he cannot be referring to public ministry because of Joel's prophecy and the deaconesses mentioned in scripture and the one female apostle named by Paul in Romans 16:7 (Junia in the original Greek had a female ending). Are we discarding Paul's words? No, Paul is clearly speaking of the marriage relationship. The woman is not to teach her husband, or have authority over him. She will effectively minister to him through her conduct (1Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:1-3).

God has shown us a pattern of leadership, not a statement of inequality (1 Corinthians 11:1-6).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What About Women?

Unbelievers have given Paul a bad reputation for his comments to and about women. This comes from a lack of understanding of Paul's culture. Paul's words were revolutionary because he treated women as equals, while recognizing the culture in which he was living (Galatians 3:28).


Paul tells Timothy to encourage the women that God demonstrates his love through them as much as he does through men. Their medium of testimony came through modesty, self control and good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Does this mean there is no other way women can minister? No, certainly not. What does scripture say? "“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit" (Joel 2:28-20).

Some of Paul's fellow ministers were women (Romans 16:1-3). Let's not get sidetracked with that argument, but focus on the point of these verses on 1 Timothy.

Live a life of self control. Demonstrate this with modesty and good works.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Difficult People

There are people who mean we'll, but are difficult to enjoy. How can we see them through God's eye? Jesus said of you do not love your brother whom you have seen, how can you love me whom you have not seen? (1 John 4:19-21).

We begin by recognizing God hassle us unique. Life experiences bring defensive behaviors that cause conflict. Second we recognize that God loved us when we out behaviors were not, shall we say, attractive? ( Romans 5:10; 1 John 3:16$. We can begin to love by changing our focus from their lack of awareness of others to what they need from us, then ask God to give you his love and wisdom.

From there we walk forward. We may stumble but we wil get up and walk again.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Angry Prayers

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1Timothy 2:8).

How often have we come before God with anger in our hearts toward someone? It is good to come to him when you are angry to ask for help. It is when we pretend that nothing us wrong that we run into trouble.

Many of King David's prayers reflected his anger toward his enemies. But even those prayers acknowledged God's sovereign control and David's need for God to intervene.

All of our emotions need to come before God's scrutiny.

" Search me, O God, and know my heart
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.:

Road to Hawaii

I live in Northern California about three hours from the Oregon boarder. Interstate 5 runs north and south. If I want to go to Seattle Washington, I have to travel North. If I want to go to Los Angeles, I must head south. If I want to go to Illinois, I must take an altogether different highway heading East. If I want to go to Hawaii, I have to get myself onto an airplane, because there are no roads that go under the ocean to Hawaii. In other words roads lead to specific destinations.

In America many love to say, "there are many paths to God, meaning all religions lead us to God. But their analogy does not hold true in the physical or spiritual world.

Scripture tells us plainly "...there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus is the only one who took the penalty of our sin upon himself (John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:21). If we reject Jesus, and all he teaches, then we reject God the Father (John 5:22-23).

Being a Christ follower will not lead you to popularity (John 15:18-19 John 8:34-36), but it will bring you eternal life (John 5:24; John 12:44-50) and will understand how to live while on the earth (John 8:12; James 1:1-3).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Can't Get More Personal Than That!

Paul writes, "God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4). To the Romans he writes, "it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes." (Romans 1:16). Peter wrote that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Some think of this offer equivalent to an invitation for the general public to attend an event placed in a newspaper. If you happen to read it and decide to go, you will be glad you did. They think an invitation of Salvation by God to everyone must by definition not be personal, as though they did not receive a personal invitation, but happened to decide to join the group who will make it to heaven.

But God's invitation to you is specific. Think about these words if Jesus, " No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:" (John 6:44), and "... they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me" (John 6:45) and "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father" (John 6:65). Jesus speaking of himself as the good shepherd says, "he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out" (John 10:3) and again "I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;" (John 10:14).

No, God's invitation to you is very personal. He called you specifically, by your name.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Unfairly Tormented

As Christians in America we feel guilty if we are not accomplishing great things for God. Yet extremely few have noticeable ministries where their names are familiar to the secular or Christian community. We continue our lives doing small things here and there and wonder how we could do more for God, but feel either inadequate or have no idea what to do for God. Others attempt to have a wide spread ministry and feel condemned when their attempts do not meet their expectations.

In light of this interal struggle, it is interesting to read Paul's instructions for us to pray that "we may lead a peaceful and quiet life," (1 Timothy 2:2). Notice the next sentence "This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior..." (1 Timothy 2:3).

If God has granted you peace and quiet, do not allow Satan to torment you. Be thankful,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Penetrating the Heart

Paul tells us two things to ask God for concerning people in authority. The first is praying that we might live a quiet peaceable life in all goodness and honesty (1 Timothy 2:2). The second is for their salvation (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

God is able to penetrate the heart of every person (John 1:9; Romans 1:18-20). And every person must give an account to God (John 5:28-29). We know that not all will love the Truth, but all will know the Truth (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11). We do not know here who will be saved and who will reject. Our business is to pray.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Water in the Palm of His Hand

Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority;" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). It is easier to understand that we should give supplications, prayers and intercessions for our rulers, but giving thanks for them? That is much more difficult if the rulers are dishonest, persecute Christians and are generally not worthy of the office they hold.

It is not as though Paul lived in a trouble free country. The Romans occupied the land and were putting Christians to death. The religious leaders were seeking to kill Paul (Act 9:23-29). Evil rulers have tormented God's children since the beginning of time. So why and how are we to give thanks for kings, presidents, governors and local rulers if they are wicked men and women?

Paul gives us specific instruction how to pray for our rulers and reason for thanksgiving. 1."that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." And 2. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Thank God that "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;he turns it wherever he will" (Provers 21:1).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blessing or Cursing?

Some of Paul's writings are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16). We come across one of those here. "some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:19-20; 1 Corinthians 5:5).

There seems to be at least two opposite ways God uses to bring people to himself. One is through pouring out his goodness (Romans 2:4) and the other through torment do Satan (see above verses).

As for me...I think I will yield to his goodness. What are you choosing (Deutoromony 30:19)?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Always Victorious

Clearly we are in a spiritual war (1 Timothy 1:18; Ephesians 6:10-18). I do't think any of God's children need to be persuaded in the truth of that statement. We see the battle raging around us and experience it within ourselves. But some of us need to be reminded that God win in the end (Acts 10:42-43; Isaiah 45:23-24; Philippians 2:10-11; Matthew 25:34-46, 32-33).

How do we remain victorious when we live surrounded by the enemy if our souls, who insistently fights against us (Revelation 12:10)? We remain steadfast in our faith and keep our conscious clear (1 Timothy 1:18-19; 1Peter5:8-11; 2 Peter 1:5-9). In other words, we do what is right, obeying God's instructions regardless of the outcome on earth and God will bring you safely home (Jude 1:24)

Friday, September 6, 2013

King of the Ages

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever (1 Timothy 1:17).

What does the Bible mean when it says "God is the King of the ages"? It means he has all power over every nation (Psalm 10:16; Acts 17:26), though we may not see it yet (Hebrews 2:5-9). He has allowed nations to go their own ways, but he has always left a witness of himself among all people (Acts 14:16-17). At times he intervenes, tearing down and building up nations (Jeremiah 1:10). In every millennium, every century, every generation he gets his will accomplished (Job 42:2).

It means in every generation he hears the desire of the afflicted and strengthens their hearts (Psalm 10:17). He takes notice of the fatherless and the oppressed and fights for them (Psalm 10:18, 82:3-4; Isaiah 11:4).

It means his invitation extends to all generations (Psalm 33:11; 45:17; 1 Chronicles 16:34).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Who Can't Be Saved?

One of Satan's weapons to block people from coming to Christ is to haunt them with their unworthiness. He reminds them of their sins and tells them God could not love them and even if God did, how could they ever forgive themselves?

Paul was the chief of all sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He had torn families apart, had fathers and mothers of children tortured and killed ( Acts 9:1-2, 13, 21, 8:3 22:5, 26:10; 1Timothy1:13). This was not a casual occurrence. He had made it the priority in his lie to torment and murder Christians, pursuing after them in foreign cities.

Yet God saved Paul, changed his life and called him into the ministry (Romans 1:1; 1Corinthians 1:2). Why did God choose such an angry revengeful man? He specifically chose him for two reasons; because Jesus came to rescue sinners (1Timothy 1:15) and "But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:16).

God's invitation of deliverance is for those in bondage, without exception. No one, absolutely no one is worthy to be saved. All of us have violated God in our rebellion against him. Paul is proof both of God's mercy and God's ability to change us.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reasons

Why would Paul tell Timothy that the law is for "the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:7-10)? Aren't Christians supposed to avoid doing these things as well?

Yes, of course. It is just that it is now our nature to avoid unrighteousness;
Because Jesus came to destroy Satan's works (1 John 3:8)
Because God has given us his Devine nature (Peter 1:4)
Because it is against now our nature to sin (1John 2:3-6)
4) Because walking in darkness breaks our fellowship with God (1John 1:5-7)
5) Because the signature of Jesus' kingdom is righteousness (Hebrews 1:8-9)
6) Because Jesus hates sin (Hebrews 1:9).

The law is for the unrighteousness because they need the incentive of punishment to avoid violating others, while it is our nature to serve others from the heart (Mark 10:42-45; Philippians 2:4-8) therefore we do not need the law to tell us to act righteous. Righteousness is written in our hearts (Hebrews 8:10-11).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Under the Law?

In the past I found references to not being under the law confusing. Some use the scriptures that say we are no longer under the law to mean our way of living has no bearing on our relationship with God (Romans 6:14; Galatians 3:23: 1Timothy 1:9-10; Hebrew 7:18). But other scripture teaches that willful sins break the relationship with God (Hebrew 10:26-31; Galatians 5:19-21).

I sorted this out in my head by thinking of scripture as referring to the law in to ways, one meaning the sacrifice of animals to obtain forgiveness and one meaning rules like, Thou shalt not kill. I believed we should obey the law of rules (the ten commandments,) but not have to bring animal sacrifices for sin. However all references to the law include the Ten Commandments as well as the animal sacrifices. So does this actually mean we can go on sinning? Absolutely not.

A close study of New Testament scripture references to the law makes clear that we stop violating God's ordinances, not because we are under the law, but because Christ has changed our hearts (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-18; Galatians 5:19-23; 1Timothy 1:8-11).

So we are not saved through the law, but through God's work of Grace in us which causes us not to sin, but to live a holy life pleasing to the Father (Ephesians 2:8-10, 4:1; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 1:10). We have a changed heart.

Under the Law?

In the past I found references to not being under the law confusing. Some use the scriptures that say we are no longer under the law to mean our way of living has no bearing on our relationship with God (Romans 6:14; Galatians 3:23: 1Timothy 1:9-10; Hebrew 7:18). But other scripture teaches that willful sins break the relationship with God (Hebrew 10:26-31; Galatians 5:19-21).

I sorted this out in my head by thinking of scripture as referring to the law in to ways, one meaning the sacrifice of animals to obtain forgiveness and one meaning rules like, Thou shalt not kill. I believed we should obey the law of rules (the ten commandments,) but not have to bring animal sacrifices for sin. However all references to the law include the Ten Commandments as well as the animal sacrifices. So does this actually mean we can go on sinning? Absolutely not.

A close study of New Testament scripture references to the law makes clear that we stop violating God's ordinances, not because we are under the law, but because Christ has changed our hearts (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-18; Galatians 5:19-23; 1Timothy 1:8-11).

So we are not saved through the law, but through God's work of Grace in us which causes us not to sin, but to live a holy life pleasing to the Father (Ephesians 2:8-10, 4:1; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 1:10). We have a changed heart.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Impersonating a Police Officer

Larry Mathew Pitt, a youth evangelist in Birmingham Alabama, was arrested for impersonating a police officer. This was his second offense. Bond was set at $15,000. Joseph William Naecker, of Port Orange, also was arrested for impersonating a police officer and his bond was set at $95,000. The crime can carry a sentence of three years in jail and heavy fines.

In religious circles there are also impersonators. We often refer to them as wolves in sheepskin clothing (Mathew 7:15). Paul describes them as people who want to be teachers, who teach as truth things they do not understand. Their teachings cause more questions than bring answers. (1 Timothy 1:4,7). Some teach to gain wealth (Titus 1:11) others out of envy and to cause division (Romans 16:17-18; Philippians 1:15).

Paul writes, "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeighned" (1 Timothy 1:5).

In other words, do not pretend faith. Be sincere and honest in all your worship.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sour Grapes

Paul's warning against endless genealogies affects another teaching that has been popular in the United States for several centuries. Some teach that curses are passed from one generation to another, quoting Exodus 20:5 "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;".

They teach that a doorway has been opened to demons by ancestor's sins, therefore they must find out what the sins were and repent of them to close the doorway. But God said in Jeremiah 31:29-30 "In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge."

And in Ezekiel 18:19-20 "Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son:the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

We are held accountable only for our sins.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ancestors

A woman explained to a class why she was becoming a Buddist. "I was raised as a Christian," she said with a smile. " But I never learned the religion of my ancestors. Buddhism is my heritage." I felt pity for her. Her Christian upbringing must never have touched her heart.

We are warned in scripture against the dangers of basing beliefs on ancestors. "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith..." 1 Timothy 1:4).

This does not mean we should not know our personal history, because the Bible itself gives us the genealogy of the Hebrew nation and Jesus' human family line (Mathew 1:1-17; the books of Numbers and Chronicles).

But, we do not believe because our ancestors believed, or because our grandparents or parents believed, though we may learn from watching them (Hebrew 13:7-8). We believe because God has put faith in our hearts and called us to himself (Hebrews 12:1-3; Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 1:1-6; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 24-25).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Three Gifts

Timothy held a very special place in Paul's heart. He had been with Paul through many of his persecutions and imprisonments. He had proven to be a trustworthy and faithful friend as well as a faithful minister to Paul and to the church at large. Timothy would soon be ministering without his mentor, because the time set for Paul's martyr was approaching.

Though we have seen similar words in every letter, let's not skip over these important references to God's gifts to each of his children, "grace, mercy and peace" (1 Timothy 1:1-3). These three gifts are the most important gifts to every believer because they embody all other gifts.

Grace encompasses strength, faith, God's compassion toward us and much more. You could almost refer to Grace as the name of the larger Package that holds all God's gifts (Ephesians 2:1-12). Mercy refers to God's bountiful forgiveness that we need, both for initial salvation and our subsequent failures(Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 1:9). And peace incorporates comfort in sorrow, rest in God's wisdom and forgiveness, as well as in the fact that our lives are under his control (Psalm 4:8; John 14:1-8).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Not Home Yet

There is an interesting final note from Paul. He brings attention to the fact that he writes the salutation and closing remarks by his own hand. The body of the texts were dictated to a companion, usually Timothy or Silvanus or Epaphroditus. He wrote the beginning and the ending in his own handwriting as a token of his love for the recipients (2 Thessalonians 3:17).

This is one of the reasons many scholars believe Paul had problems with his eyes. In his letter to the Galatians, he feels so strongly about a warning that he writes a note in the middle of his letter, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand" (Galatians 6:11). He also tells the Galatians "you know it was because of physical infirmity that I preached the Gospel to you" (Galatians 4:13-14). He writes to the Corinthians that God would not remove the "thorn in his flesh" to protect him against arrogance (2 Corinthians 12:10-17).

We know Paul suffered torture several times in his missionary trips (2 Corinthians 3:23-29. Suffering is not an indication of lack of faith, or distance from God. Jesus suffered throughout his life, not just at the cross (Isaiah 53). Suffering reminds us that we're not home yet.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sweet Words to Worried Hearts

"May The Lord of Peace himself give you peace at all times in every way" (2 Thessalonians 2:16).

Those are sweet words to worried hearts. God himself will give you peace. The use of the word "himself" makes the giving personal. It is more than a generic gift of peace to the body of Christ as a whole. It means God sees you as an individual and purposely gives you, ________ (put in your name) peace.

God is not blinded to your situation. He is not a man that he would be too busy to notice you as an individual. He knows your name (John 10:1-2) and he knows your address (Acts 9:11). He knows what you do for a living (Acts 9:11) and where you are at any given moment (Psalm 139:8-10). If you do not understand something, rest in the knowledge, love and power God has toward you and leave the answers up to him (Psalm 131).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Feigned Obedience

If we are "to note that man" who does not obey the truth, "and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed" (2 Thessalonians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 5:11) does this mean are we not to be friends with unbelievers? No, Paul is referring to people who say they are believers but who do not live according to God's word.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that to avoid having company with fornicators, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters we would have to go out of the world. (1 Corinthians 5:10). We know Jesus ate with sinners (Matthew 9:10-13).

Nor does it mean we turn our backs on a fellow believer that has momentarily fallen to a temptation and has a repentant heart. The strong rebuke belongs to the hypocrite who feigns obedience but refuses to give up his or her a life of sin.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Delicate Task

Paul instructs the Thessalonians to discipline believers who do not behave in a manner worthy of the kingdom. He writes, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly", (2 Thessalonians 3:6) that "if any would not work, neither should he eat" (3:10) and "if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed" (3:14).

These are not easily followed instructions because of two pitfalls. If we correct out of an arrogant heart, we are in danger of falling into temptation ourselves (2 Thessalonians 3:15; Galatians 6:1). Secondly we have trouble following through when the violators are our friends.

Jesus gives us specific instructions on how to correct (Matthew 18:15-17). First we are to approach the matter privately. Next we are to take one or two people with us to approach them. Finally we are to bring it to the entire body of believers. All of this is done to rescue the fellow believer from his sin and must be done with a heart the recognizes our own vulnerability to transgress.

Paul warns against arrogance saying, "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (2 Thessalonians 3:15).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Five Promises

Hind sight is a great teacher as long as we do not allow it to be our slave driver. We are wise to recognize our selfishness and repent without living in the past. My past errors, not only teach me to make better decisions, they also remind me of my need for God. My confidence that I will die victorious in Christ is not based on my power to keep myself from falling. My confidence is that God himself will keep me from falling (Jude 1:24).

Look at 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5. Paul gives the Thessalonians five thing that God is faithful to do.

Stablished you
Keep you from evil
That ye both do and will do the things which are commanded you
direct your hearts into the love of God
And into the patient waiting for Christ

If you failed in a given situation, let it remind you of what you would be like without God in your life. Rather than living in fear that you will continue to fail, rejoice that The Lord showed you so that you will move even closer to him.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Set Times

When evil men determine to harm God's children, God takes notice (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3). God always responds.

Sometimes he causes those who plan evil against one of his children to fall prey to their own trap (Psalm 7:12-16, 9:15-16, 21:11-12; Psalm 2:1-4; Psalm 10:2). Sometimes he delays their retribution, but he always takes revenge (Deuteronomy 3:5, 32:43; Psalm 58:10-11; Romans 12:19).

Sometimes he allows his child to suffer at the hands of unjust men, but he will never abandon us to Satan (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3; John 15:18-19, 17:15). There is a set time of our persecution and a set time for its end (Genesis 15:12-16; Jeremiah 11:12-14; Isaiah 10:12-13; Acts 1:7, 7:17, 17:26).

Whether we are persecuted to the day of our death, or whether he delivers us from our enemies on earth, we belong to God and our life is in his hands (Psalm 139:16; Romans 14:8).





Monday, August 19, 2013

Backlash

Paul requests the Thessalonians pray that he may be delivered from wicked and evil men, "for not all have faith" (2 Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 15:30-31). Those who do not believe that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins are often resentful toward those who share the message of salvation.

To them we smell like death (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). They view the message as foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18) and scoff or look down on anyone who believes. The anger produced by unrepentant hearts can lash out against those who bring the message of God's forgiveness. They can make life difficult for the believer, especially if they are in a position of authority.

We need to pray for one another that God will protect us from the backlash of wicked and evil men.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Many Hands Make Light Work

In some homes in America it is polite for a dinner guest to offer to help clean up after the meal. If your friend is moving and needs help loading the moving van, I good friend will lend a hand. There is an American saying, "Many hands make light work." Or "If we all pitch in we can get the work done more quickly." In each of these cases, we could do the work ourselves with no help, but the task would feel daunting.

But spiritual work can only be done by the Holy Spirit. That is why we need to pray for one another that our work in God's kingdom will be blessed by God. If it is not, we work in vain (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Psalm 127:1).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Duped

Do you feel anger or disgust when you hear of an employee who does not do his part in a project, but when the boss comes around he gets all the credit? Can you relate to the student who feels livid when a member of their study group never showed up to meetings or lifted a hand to help receives the top grade along with the rest of the group? Do you find yourself uncomfortable at the thought of someone taken advantage of another? Have you ever felt someone was being duped by another person and you could not do anything about it?

God is never fooled, manipulated or duped by anyone who professes to follow him but does not (Romans 11:33-36). He knows the heart of every person(Acts 15:8; John 2:23-25). He knows them better than they know themselves( Psalm 139:1-4). He is just to send a delusion to those who are purposely disobedient and take pleasure in their sin (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chosen from the Beginning

God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Isaiah 43:1-2, 45:3-4, 46:10; Ephesians 1:1-6). Knowing this, be steadfast in your faith. Hold tightly to what God has taught you.

Do not be afraid (Exodus 14:13) For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand,
saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee (Isaiah 41:13).

Jesus Christ and God our Father will comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work (2 Thessalonians 2:17).


Isaiah 46:10

"Remember the former things of old:
for I am God, and there is none else;
I am God, and there is none like me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
and from ancient times the things that are not yet done,
saying, My counsel shall stand,
and I will do all my pleasure:"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Patience and Faith

God remains victorious over the Anti-Christ, though for a time it will look like God's people are being defeated (revelation 13:5-10). At the set time Jesus will destroy satan as it were with one breath (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:11-21).

John writes, "Here is the patience and the faith of the saints" (Revelation 13:10).

When troubles are overwhelming, our faith and hope remain in God. We may loose everything here, but no one can touch inheritance in Christ (John 10:28; Ephesians 1:11-12, 18-19; Colossians 1:12-14, 3:24-25; 1 Peter 1:3-5).