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Showing posts from November, 2017

Citizens with the Saints

Scripture:
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Observation:
The followers of Jesus Christ were sanctified, being made holy, as they continued on the journey of life. The saints were God’s holy people, those who had been saved and were now being sanctified. The holy ones had been adopted into God’s household. This was a new home, a house where Christ was the cornerstone. 
This new home was the dwelling place of God, a holy temple. Every member of the new household was a stone, held together by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, so that, together, we could serve as a holy temple in the Lord. As a corporate body w…

The Beautiful Long Walk

Scripture:
Eph. 2:10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Observation:
The beautiful tapestry of God’s creation includes each and every single human being. We are as creatively produced as the lyrics of a poem or the chords of an orchestral tune which brings one to tears. Intentionality on the part of God to create humanity in the very image and likeness of the Creator means that we reflect Christ in our actions. God has prepared a pathway for our lives, a way in which we are to walk, day in and day out. This way of life, in the Greek is really the walk, and it’s a way in which we will walk for the remainder of our lives. Once we are “in Christ Jesus,” then we live a restored life, in the image of God, in which we remain on the pathway of new life, until we come to the end of the journey. It is a beautiful long walk, as God’s creativity is experienced along the way.
Application:
Salvation is never by …

The Spectacular Scale of God’s Power

Scripture:
Eph. 1:17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
Observation:
The prayer for those in Ephesus is that they will go deeper in their relationship with God. They lived in a city where people believed that the goddess Diana was all-powerful. The need was great to embrace the depths of power that were available in and through God. The all-powerful, God of glory is capable of providing wisdom and revelation in the midst of our circumstances. It is possible for spiritual growth to expand our vistas, to open the eyes of our hearts, so that we can begin to see the eternal. When this happens we e…

Blessworthy

Scripture:
Eph. 1:3   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
Observation:
While many of our translations say “Blessed be…God,” the understanding here is that God is “blessworthy.” In other words, this is a praise to God, and Paul is giving us the reasons that God is “blessworthy.” This is not some kind of apologetic for God, but is an invitation to the readers to join in praising and extolling the work of God. This is a model for prayer that helps us lift our eyes beyond ourselves and the things of this world, and to see God’s invitation to participate in the unfolding plan.
God is “blessworthy” because of holiness. The unfolding of God’s plan is a revelation that all of humanity is invited to become “holy and blameless before him in love.” Only God can make us holy people, thro…

Grace and Peace

Scripture:
Eph. 1:2   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Observation:
This greeting is found in five of the Epistles attributed to the apostle Paul. While we may simply see it as routine, there must also have been great significance. This salutation sets the tone for the letter, recognizing that both grace and peace come from God the Father, and Jesus Christ. Only when we embrace the unmerited grace of God, can we live in the gift of the Prince of Peace. There is no peace without grace, and all of this comes freshly supplied to those who want to grow spiritually.
Application:
Sometimes I wonder about how seriously we consider our faith, or whether it’s something that gets put on the back burner and pulled out whenever its needed. What strikes me about Paul is his intentionality in all that he says and does. Right from the outset he makes it clear that everything must be focused on the unwarranted grace and peace which we receive from God.
In my traditio…

Come Before Winter

Scripture:
2 Timothy4:21 Do your best to come before winter.
Observation:
It appears that Paul is coming to the end of his life and the struggles are real. He is tired and worn out. Soon it will be winter and he needs his cloak because Rome will be cold. He wants some of his study materials as well, and he really wants to see Timothy.
Paul knew what it was like to sail the Mediterranean during the winter for he had suffered shipwreck in a terrible storm. Most captains would not attempt to travel during this treacherous season. Paul wanted Timothy to consider his safety, and the practicality of traveling. He really needed Timothy to come soon, before winter set in, probably because he felt this would be his last opportunity to see him. Paul sensed that not much time was left and the time for action was now.
Application:
We all live through the seasons of life, each providing joys and sorrows. Through the seasons we have the opportunity to grow and to develop as God’s holy people. We can …

Experiencing the Breath of God

Scripture:
2 Timothy 2:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
Observation:
Timothy had been raised reading and studying the holy Scriptures. What we know of as the Old Testament was standard study for the Jews. While Timothy had a mixed heritage, his mother ensured his Jewish eduction and this remained with him and served as a vital foundation to his Christian faith.
Timothy, the young pastor, as should any pastor, is encouraged to really know the Scriptures. The breath of God has blown through the written word and the words have come to life. It is this same Spirit which …

Enticing Opposition

Scripture:
2 Timothy 3:8-9 As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth. But they will not make much progress, because, as in the case of those two men, their folly will become plain to everyone.
Observation:
The message of the gospel was so radical that it went against the voices of society. There were those within the community who purported a gospel which was more enticing than the one preached by Timothy. Drawn by the love of money and power, there were those who believed that they could present a message that was more palatable. 
Jannes and Jambres are historical figures, believed to be the magicians who worked for Pharoah. Every time Moses presented the truth, they providing an opposing perspective which seemed a bit appealing, but eventually led to death. They could almost present the same works which Moses was doing, and therefore, they led both Pharoah and his people into a counterfeit faith. That faith was a re…

Stupid Quarrels

Scripture:
2Tim. 2:23 Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, 25 correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, 26 and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
Observation:
It may be hard to imagine that there were stupid and senseless controversies in the city of Ephesus, before there was social media. It seems that humanity has always had a propensity for disagreement and it’s simply the medium in which those discussions have occurred that has changed. In the first century there were those who were professionally trained in rhetoric; generally known as lawyers, or ministers. They went to universities where they were educated in the art of disagreement. Among those with the highest skill was the Apostle Paul. He knew…

The Beautiful Diversity of Household Utensils

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Scripture:
2Tim. 2:20   In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. 21 All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work.
Observation:
For the household to function at its highest caliber, there is a need for a full range of utensils. Hospitality is a reflection of a home and the earthly kingdom of God is to reflect the reality of the eternal koinonia found within God. Instruments are required for that hospitality and this includes household utensils. The wide variety of utensils required means that there must be great diversity within the household; hence, within the kingdom.
In ancient practice some vessels were considered more valuable than others because of the materials out of which they were made. Within the kingdom those dividing walls were destroyed because all were needed for the k…

Where Have You Deposited Your Faith?

Where Have You Deposited your Faith? 
Scripture:
2 Timothy 1:12b But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 
Observation:
Paul strongly affirms that he is not ashamed of being a Christian. Even if other people think of him as a lunatic on account of his work, he will not turn back. He has given everything that he has for the sake of the gospel. Some of the older translations use the word “deposit” to refer to Paul’s putting his complete trust in God. Other translations us the word “commended,” or what Paul has commended to God. Augustine suggests that Paul is saying that he has commended his faith to God for safe keeping. Others might say that Paul has deposited his faith into God’s bank, and that he is entrusting everything, his mission, and all that he holds dear, to God. When that is done, then no amount of questioning on the part of others will cause him to withdraw his depos…

When You’re Feeling Intimidated

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Scripture:
2 Timothy 1:6-7 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
Observation:
Timothy was a young minister working in a situation where strong voices were spreading unsound doctrine. It seems that Timothy may have had a gentle spirit and have been intimidated by the older and more forceful voices. Foundational to tackling that which seemed to hinder Timothy’s minister, was love. The gift of God was Timothy’s love for God, that filled him to overflowing. He had entered into a covenant of grace, to serve as Jesus’ ambassador on earth, and affirmed by the laying on of hands. He was to remember that moment, and live his life in confidence.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in Timothy’s life had been evidenced by those around him. Timothy should not feel intimidated, nor should he fear those who disagreed with …

If You Are Rich

Scripture:
1 Timothy 6:17-19
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
Observation:
Obviously there were people within the church community of Ephesus who had financial resources. These people were also disciples of Jesus Christ and there were specific instructions to them. While having more resources than others may provide for certain opportunities in life, these people were not to be haughty. Even if they had riches they were not to trust in their material wealth, but to learn to trust in God.
Just because someone is wealthy doesn’t mean that they are happy. Sometimes the burden of wealth can seem unbearable…

A Morbid Craving

Scripture:
1 Timothy 6:2b-5
Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
Observation:
Controversy seemed to be quite an issue in Ephesus where Timothy was pastoring. One can only imagine that he was attempting to preach from the words of Jesus Christ but there were those who are making it nearly impossible. Instead of agreeing with the preaching, they were arguing about every word that was spoken, challenging every phrase to the point that Timothy was unable to preach the truth. He couldn't even finish a thought before someone was raising a point of order.
The problem wi…

Do Not Ordain Hastily

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Scripture:
1Tim. 5:22 Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
Observation:
Timothy may have been a very compassionate and sympathetic individual, but that could have led to problems in the church. There are two ways to see this passage of scripture. One has to do with the selection of leaders who are a part of the church. To avoid scandals, those who are to be in positions of leadership are to be well examined. There should be a process and a period of time in which the life and character of the individual is examined. Ordination is never a right, but it is a covenant of grace bestowed upon an individual by the church.
Those who lay hands on an individual to be ordained bear responsibility for the future actions of those who are receiving ordination. This is why the ones who do the ordination must carefully examine and prepare those to be ordained. This is also where the second concern may have occurred, and that relates to individua…