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Showing posts from October, 2017

The Discipline of The Good Servant

Scripture:
1Tim. 4:6   If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
Observation:
Over and over Timothy is encouraged to be a good teacher. Discipleship training was an important feature of the early church and there were great concerns over false teaching. The only way this could be overcome was by on-going, correct teaching about the faith. This meant that Timothy himself had to be trained so that he …

Appreciating God’s Creative Gifts

Scripture:
1 Timothy 4:4-5 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.

Observation:
False teachers were preaching a very strict asceticism for Christ followers. The problem was that they were embracing Gnosticism,and separating the world into two realms, the spiritual and the physical. Over and again there is the affirmation that just as Jesus came in the flesh, sanctifying all of humanity, so we are to live in the flesh as sanctified followers of Christ. The Gnosticssaw physical creation as evil, and therefore to be avoided.
This teaching was not to infiltrate the church,but it had. Now the affirmation was to embrace the beauty of things that God had created. This included sexual relations in marriage, as well as enjoying lovely foods. All of this was to be seen as a gift from God, enjoyed with gratitude and thanksgiving. With our whole beings we are to appreciate and…

Tough Moments in Ministry

Scripture:
1 Timothy 2:8-15
I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. 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, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.
Observation:
The people attending Timothy’s church seemed to have some issues with the ways in which they were behaving. Christlikeness was probably not a word that someone would have used to describe what they saw at the church. Therefore, there were some instruction…

Praying for Our Leaders

Scripture:
1Tim. 2:1  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.
Observation:
Timothy was being instructed on prayer, both for himself and the church community whom they served. They were to take seriously the call to prayer, which included all of those within their community. They were to bring needs and requests, as well as their thanksgivings before the Father in prayer.
No one was to be excluded from the prayers of the church community. Even those with whom they did not have common interest were to be prayed for, including those in leadership. To pray for the leaders was to pray for the whole community because of their decisions. Therefore it becomes the Christian’s duty to pray for those whose actions will have an effect on every citizen. The result is that prayer is to be at the very center …

Grace & Mercy

Scripture:
1Tim. 1:12   I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Observation:
This story from the life of Paul becomes an example of grace and mercy. Saul, the persecutor was captured by the prevenient grace of God. The grac…

How are you using the Law?

Scripture:
1Tim. 1:8   Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately.
Observation:
Let’s concede the fact that there is an Old Testament law, and this is good. The New Testament writers had the Old Testament as their Scripture. There was no desire on their part to ignore what they had learned throughout out their lives. False teachers may be able to quote the law, but their intent was not to use the Scripture for God’s purposes, but for their own. They wanted to become famous, but they failed to see the real purpose. While one can quote the laws and debate their place in the world with others, they may still be far from embracing the true purpose.
Chrysostom tells us:
The law, he seems to say, is good, and again, not so good. What then? Suppose one uses it unlawfully, is it not good? No, even then the law itself as such remains good. What he means is this: if any one fulfills the law in his actions, it is good. For that is to “use it lawfully,” as here intended. But when …

Trying to Keep the Discussion Healthy

Scripture:
1Tim. 1:3   I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, 4 and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. 5 But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. 6 Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.
Observation:
The church is in its early stages of development and already there are heresies. The reality is that in every era there will be those who will challenge the faith and will provide alternatives. Ministers of the gospel are not to allow themselves to become sidetracked by this kind of thinking or teaching. Instead, they are to focus on the traini…

The Word Increases

Scripture:
Acts 6:7   The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Observation:
As an ongoing process there were those who were joining the believers in Jerusalem. The word of God was spreading, or as some translations say, increasing. The evidence of this was that there were increasing numbers of disciples in Jerusalem. This idea of discipleship is significant for it is not just a conversion, but a wholehearted change of life, which is evidenced by the comment regarding the priests. The priests would have been those among the crowd who had jeered Jesus in the past and letting go of their lifestyle and livelihood to become a disciple would have been a major change. This inclusion of the priests in the multitude of new disciples is an indicator of the power of transformation. The old structures were beginning to crumble as the word of God continued to spread.
The fact that the …

Earth Became Like Heaven

Scripture: 
Acts 5:12   Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. 16 A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.
Observation:
The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and their behaviors began to replicate those found in Christ. They were performing the signs and wonders that Jesus had performed while he was here on earth. They went regularly to Solomon’s Portico and publicly preached and spoke to the people. Not wanting to act too interested some wouldn’t …

First, Get This Right

Scripture
Psa. 1:1   Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; 2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. 3They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
Observation
This first Psalm becomes foundational to all the rest. Throughout life there will be days of trouble and yet, we discover the ways in which God leads. The wicked will always be nearby offering a tempting pathway for life that appears to be easy. The one who chooses to follow God must learn to stand firm and not give into the the temptations of the ego. Getting strokes from other people means nothing when it comes to kingdom life.
Learning to delight in God’s law and making it a priority in life will change everything. Taking the time to meditate on the word provides a new type of nourishment for …

Durable Clothing and Feet that Don’t Swell — What a Deal!

Scripture
Neh. 9:21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness so that they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
Observation
Nehemiah was reminding the people what God had done for them. Every detail of their needs had been cared for during the time in which they walked in the desert. The reference to clothing and feet was an indicator that everything had been taken into account. How in the world did clothing last for forty years? When people walked day in and day out in the desert, hot in the day and cold at night, their feet did not swell. This was all supernatural and not explainable in any way, but for divine intervention. The promise of the God of the details remained true to those who were returning from exile and rebuilding the walls. The memories served as a reminder that the LORD could, and should be trusted.
Application
The older I get the more that durable clothing and non-swollen feet sounds really appealing. The cheaper our clothi…

A Spirit of Generosity

Scripture
Neh. 5:16 Indeed, I devoted myself to the work on this wall, and acquired no land; and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover there were at my table one hundred fifty people, Jews and officials, beside those who came to us from the nations around us. 18 Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and every ten days skins of wine in abundance; yet with all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because of the heavy burden of labor on the people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.
Observation
It had come to Nehemiah’s attention that certain Jews were becoming wealthy over the recovery of Jerusalem. Those returning home from exile had little to offer and they needed to establish their lives. Those with goods to sell were willing to offer credit, but it came with a high price. Suddenly those who had escaped slavery in a foreign land found th…

When Everyone Is Needed

Scripture
Neh. 3:6   Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 7 Next to them repairs were made by Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite—the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah—who were under the jurisdiction of the governor of the province Beyond the River. 8 Next to them Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10 Next to them Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house; and next to him Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs. 11 Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Next to him Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.
Ob…

Out of Our Abundance

Scripture
Luke 21:1   He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2 he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4 for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”
Observation
The people were giving their offerings into the treasury and it seems that all were participating. The ways in which they could participate were radically different. The wealthy were not giving sacrificially. They were able to give generously but it came out of their abundance. They could give to the treasury and it didn’t affect their own lives. They didn’t have to give up anything to give. Instead, they took care of their own needs first and they gave out of that which they did not need. This was in stark contrast to the life of the widow. She didn’t have much of anything and yet, she wanted to give. She sacrificially gave th…

Thoughtful Leadership

Scripture
Esther 10: 3 For Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was powerful among the Jews and popular with his many kindred, for he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his descendants.
Observation
Mordecai was a faithful Jew who did all that he could in his lifetime to serve many. He was a faithful citizen and acted justly in the needs and desires of the King. It was his consistency throughout his life that became a factor when trouble befell the Jewish people. Serving for the sake of others, he did everything he could to make the world a better place. 
Ultimately he became second in command to the King. By serving faithfully in a government position he was able to intercede on behalf of his people. As a result his people had good days and his descendants were able to live in a world which had been shaped by him. His thoughtful leadership meant looking out for the good of others. While he could have used his power to his own benef…

Intentional Discipleship

Scripture
Luke 17:1   Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2 It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
Observation
Jesus understood the need for his disciples to grow spiritually. If they were to be leaders in the kingdom they would have to act responsibly. Their behaviors were not to become a stumbling block to those who were still young in their faith. In fact, there would be grave consequences for those who played this role in the life of new believers.
Discipleship required an attentiveness to the temptations we all face. Therefore we receive …