Tuesday, December 31, 2013


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).