Guard the Deposits!

2 Timothy 1

Paul wrote a second letter to Timothy and the church and starts it out sending his grace, mercy and peace! As I was studying I ran across in a commentary that when Paul was writing to the church he would send grace and peace but when Paul would send letters to the church and to the minister of the church he would always include mercy. Hmm maybe that means we should be including mercy to our ministers too. The first thing he writes to Timothy in this letter is to remind Timothy that he prays for him night and day. He states he remembers Timothy’s tears. According to commentary it could mean that Timothy cried the last time that Paul and Timothy were together face to face. When I read it my first thought was that maybe Timothy had somehow communicated to Paul how hard ministry was and that he shed many tears for the people of his church. At any rate Paul is letting him know that he prays for him, he longs to see him and he is telling Timothy again to hold onto his faith. Faith that has legacy in his life with his mother and grandmother. Oh how important it points out to me to know that the faith that we walk today can and will be carried down to our children and our grandchildren.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1:6-7)

I have often heard verse 7 quoted many times. We use this verse (as we should) when we fear things that are put before us, when we are uncertain about our next steps or when we are struggling with thoughts and our own actions that we don’t seem to think we can control. But I like the way it goes with verse 6. Paul is telling Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” that Paul himself had laid hands on him to do. What does it even mean to “fan into flame”? We all have gifts and purposes that God has put us here for. But those gifts and purposes can lay stagnate and dormant in our life if we are not using them. That’s the basic precept here. I know for me if I listen too much to the thoughts and voices coming at me, I can hear the “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not smart enough” “I could never do that” so loudly that I feel crippled in what I think or feel the things God may be calling me to do. The fanning into flame is simply doing the thing that God puts before you. It may be rocking babies in the nursery, it may be teaching the Sunday school class. It may be simply opening the door for someone. What are the gifts that God is putting before you? Fanning them into flame is taking the next right step. And see where God leads you next.

Paul also tells Timothy not to be ashamed of his testimony nor of Paul being in prison.

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God (2 Tim. 1:8 ESV)

There may have been things that people were saying about the fact that Paul was in prison. We have the benefit of the rest of the story. We know that God’s intent with Paul was to use him through the ages. But I wonder when Paul and Timothy were living it could there have been doubts? Maybe Timothy was at the time having doubts about his own calling because well, look where it got Paul. Paul seems to be pretty steadfast in his calling but the words here to encourage Timothy make me wonder a bit if Timothy was doubting. Paul is encouraging Timothy to be steadfast too. In verses 8 – 11 Paul is laying it out there telling Timothy, don’t be ashamed of the gospel, share in the suffering of the gospel, that God has called each of us to a purpose and grace and that Jesus abolished death. Paul is very emphatic when he says

“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Tim. 1:12 ESV)

I find this to be a very encouraging chapter if you are a christ follower. But I know that for me the only way for me to battle the voices that I feel tell me I am not worthy, and the wondering about my calling or the doubts that can fill my life is to guard what I feel He has put right in front of me. To guard the deposits he has entrusted to me, the things He has called me to do.

“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (2 Tim. 1:14 ESV)

Please pray for the medical professionals today. Pray for a cure or vaccine. Pray for Covid-19 to go away!

Godliness with contentment

1 Timothy 6

Paul starts out this final chapter of 1 Timothy talking to how slaves should respond to their believing masters. He is telling them that if their master is a believer that they should treat them with respect and honor. This can also be translated into our workplaces today and that we as believers are meant to treat our employers with respect and honor especially if they are believers too.

The next thing Paul addresses in this chapter is false teachers. Paul is warning Timothy and the people at the church of Ephesus to beware. When people do not value the Christian faith and the words of Jesus they will go on and on with their words in ways that will tear others down and will bring themselves up. Paul says it best here.

“he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Tim. 6:4-5 ESV)

Unpack that, can we see that happening in our world today or what? There are people puffed up, there is an unhealthy craving for controversy and quarreling and all of those things envy, slander, evil suspicions. But, the next verse is what we as believers should hold onto.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” (1 Tim. 6:6-7)

In other words when we are content with Jesus and do not put our hope and faith into material possessions and the talk of this world then we are practicing “godliness with contentment.”  Paul goes on to warn here that when you desire money and you put your hope and your peace into money that you may fall into temptations and wander away from the faith. This is not to say that having money or having material things is bad, but where is it in regard to your heart. Is money and wealth what brings you contentment or is it your faith in Jesus?

The charge is this:

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim. 6:11-12 ESV)

Paul is encouraging Timothy to hold tight to his faith and while he is at it, he is encouraging the people of the church to hold tight to their faith. One of the good things of the pandemic to me has been the re-focus on the things that are truly important in life. We are not to set our hope on riches/money or on our jobs or on people. If we have been blessed with riches we should be ready to be generous and to share, but above all, the rich and the poor should be setting our hopes on God.

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” 1 Tim. 6:20

The noise of this world has been so loud lately that it surely feels like irreverent babble. We have also seen contradictions. But we as believers must guard what has been entrusted to us. My hope and my prayer is that as we guard the words of Jesus in our hearts and lives that we can be light to others!

Please pray for our country, our President, Vice President, Governor, and all our leaders. They/we surely need it!

 

Too quick to judge

1 Timothy 5

In this chapter Paul is telling Timothy how to treat others in his congregation.  He specifically addresses how to treat people who are older, widowed as well as the younger generation who may also be widowed. First he tells Timothy to treat the older men with respect as he would a father, treat younger men as a brother, older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. He also addresses that if there is a member of the congregation who is “truly a widow” meaning she has no one for the church to care for her. But that if an older woman or man has family that the family should care for them.

Paul also addresses that a younger widow who can care for themself or remarry should do so that it is not the church’s responsibility to care for them. Paul is saying in this chapter that there is always work to be done. The older people who truly need help from the church should be helped but in so doing they still have responsibilities to the church in prayer, if nothing else. Paul has set out here as well as Jesus did during his earthly ministry that it is a good thing to work and to not be idle. I’ve often heard the phrase “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”.

Another theme I have seen in this chapter is gossip and accusations.

“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (1 Tim. 5:19)

We should be always careful about what we say as well as about what we believe. Just because one person said it does not mean it to be truth. Are there witnesses? Is there evidence? We have to be very careful of prejudging and showing partiality.

“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. (1 Tim. 5:22)

And here we are, the sum of it all. “keep yourself pure”. You know most of the time if we just simply worry about ourself then the rest will work out and I think that is one of the things Paul is telling Timothy here. Don’t judge too quickly the actions of others. One man may come in and act rightly in the beginning and yet he does not have the depth of character to sustain his actions and yet the other man may have people gossiping and telling all their sins outright and yet, the heart and what lies deep may be more pure than the one who looks to be acting rightly. It takes time to truly learn the character of another.

The last two verses of this chapter could sum up the whole.

“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 Tim. 5:24-25)

Another saying I have heard a lot “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. We must realize that making a judgment with one look can result in judging wrongly. We shouldn’t judge others too quickly. What is in a persons character will not remain hidden whether it be bad character or good. If a person is in the habit of sin and bad character, time will bring it to the surface, but the same with good works and good character. Time will be the true test to that as well.

Please pray for small businesses and the service industries today. But not just pray, shop local if you can and tip well if you can!

A Good Servant

1 Timothy 4

This chapter starts out talking about how some people in latter times will depart from the faith. We all know that 2020 has been the craziest year. We have had a pandemic, then all of the things that have brought on the protests, rioting, looting. We are only a few days into hurricane season and we are already on our 3d named storm. I know my area alone has seen multiple tornadoes. Easter Sunday we had two go within 2.5 miles of our house, one on the north side and one on the south side. These days you hear things about people choosing their gender and coming up with their own truths. I hear it all the time that we are in the latter days. And we could be, but the truth still holds clear that only God knows the day and hour that Jesus will return. We could be in the latter days but these latter days could take years, decades even centuries before they are done.

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. (1 Tim. 4:6)

Above all else, whether we are in last days or not, we know this has been a crazy year. We know that life brings us all sorts of challenges. So I want to know what I can do to be a good servant of Christ. I want to be trained in the words of the faith. That is why I am studying and writing. To learn myself. And if I can encourage someone along the way, then all the better for it. Paul is telling Timothy in this chapter to train himself for godliness (v. 7). Paul tells him that godliness has “value in every way” because It holds promises for today as well as promises for the future.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness, for while 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 Tim. 4:7-8)

Paul ends this chapter by telling Timothy to teach. Timothy is to teach the church. Paul brings attention to Timothy’s youth, yet that is not to be a deterrent to Timothy, nor should it ever be a deterrent to anyone. We as believers, no matter our age, are to set examples “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”. (v. 12)

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.  (1 Tim. 4;13)

All throughout this letter to Timothy and the church, Paul mentions his return at some point in time. But what he is saying to Timothy and to the church is simply read, learn and live the scriptures. The same holds true today. I believe going to church is a good thing and I am glad ours is back and I pray for all public houses of worship to be back in full swing. I know that God has blessed us even during this all but I believe we are made for community. That is where I believe the devoting to public reading and to teaching comes in. It’s biblical, so it will be back in full eventually. Then in verse 16 he simply says

Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 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 Tim. 15-16)

I love that “practice these things”. We aren’t expected to have perfection, just practice and persistence. And with practice and persistence maybe then we will be saved and maybe, just maybe someone else will be too.

Please pray for the pastors and their teams today who are deciding what is best for their congregations.

The Mystery of Godliness

1 Timothy 3

This chapter in Timothy is laying out the qualifications for people who held positions of service in the church. Paul gives a list of things that, at first glance can seem like they are a list of dos and don’ts which goes against the grain of grace. But you have to read that this is for those who feel called and led to high positions, whether it be deacon, teacher, or pastor.

This list however is not meant to scare you away or to say that those who hold these positions have to be perfect people. That is an impossibility as we know, Jesus was the only perfect human. Jesus was fully human and He was fully God which is why He was the picture of perfection. But what Paul is laying out here is that the person who serves the church must be someone who is striving for these things. When Paul lists out the list of dos and don’ts that he lists here he is saying this should be someone who has been following Christ for a time and his faith has stood the test of time.

They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. (1 Tim 3:9)

Again, I believe that what Paul is saying without saying it is that it must be someone who is walking in relationship with Jesus.

Paul also addresses the wives of the church leaders. Some translations actually stated women who were serving as well.

“Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Tim 3:11)

Oh ladies can we just skip over that word slanderer? (I wish) I know myself and I know my mouth can get in the way of myself, my ministry, my friendships, QUICK if I am not careful. The NIV says “not malicious talkers”.  The AMP says “not double-tongued”. TPT says “not known as those who gossip.” I tried and tried to look for a different way to look at that. But the bottom line is I know that my mouth will get me in trouble a whole lot quicker than the rest of this list here. So before I get up on a spiritual high horse let me just get right back down on my knees and ask the Lord to forgive me and to help me to be more dignified and oh I pray that He will find me faithful in all things. But I can promise you it only happens in any semblance of faithfulness if I spend my time with Him on my knees.

My favorite part of this chapter is the last verse. I am not sure I have ever picked up on it before but it is a praise to Jesus and it is something I want to memorize and keep in my heart always.

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 Tim 3:16)

I believe I would end that statement with an exclamation point!

Pray for the educators today and the students. No one knows what everything is going to look like in the Fall. There are lots of decisions to be made. Please pray for wisdom for the ones making those decisions.

PRAY!

I Timothy 2

Paul starts this chapter with a “first of all”. In other words as he is setting Timothy up to lead the church of Ephesus he wants Timothy and the people to understand, before you can have success in church, in life, In anything, this is what you do “First of all”. PRAY!!

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. (1 Tim. 1)

Supplications, are requests. We are not supposed to pray to God simply to ask for things. But we are supposed to come boldly to the throne to ask for what we need. Oh what a war that can be going on in your mind if you think on this too hard. I do think the Bible gives us direction to ask God. I think though where we, where I get tangled up is what is my motive for asking. I have to check myself over and over why am I asking. One thing I try to do when I am asking God for something that I can’t clearly see to be His will, I add if it be Your will Lord”. And then I ask God that if what I am asking for is not His will, for Him to change my heart. And I can honestly say I have seen Him answer my prayers with some of the things I asked for and I have sure had Him change my heart too. So ask God for what you need, for what you want, but also ask Him to only give it to you if it would be for your good and His glory and if it is not to be to change your heart in the meantime. He will answer!

Prayers is communication with God! This prayer thing is a 2 way street. As you ask God for your needs and your wants, you must also tune your ear and your heart to listen to Him. That is what Prayer is. We have the Holy Spirit living inside us to lead and to guide us, to communicate with us and to be with us all the time. Ask God to help you tune your ear and your heart to what He wants to say to you. He longs to communicate with us.

Intercessions are for other people. Who in your life do you need to be bringing to the throne of grace. If you have been following these devotions we have had a different people group that we are praying for daily. But we all have people that we need to pray for daily as well. It’s biblical, it’s right here. Pray for others, bring them to the throne and lay them at His feet in your mind. When Paul points that out here He was putting high importance on it for the church.

Thanksgivings is just what it says. Acknowledge to God the blessings He gives. How has He answered a prayer for you. What little blessings can you acknowledge to Him that He has given you. I have a journal that I try to write 3 blessings down every day. I read Ann Voskamp’s “1000 Gifts” where she counted her blessings daily and wrote them down until she reached 1000.  I have started and stopped this many times. Well I started back last summer and I am almost to the 1000 mark. I have probably missed a few days here and there, possibly but I have kept after it and I want to continue even after I make 1000. It has made me more aware and it has made me more grateful for all of the little things and the big things that God does for me daily.

There are some things in the rest of this chapter that I must admit I read and was like hmmm. However I do believe I have to take the whole of God’s word and that it is not right to pick and choose what we want to grasp and hold on to. However, I also think that it is ok to ask God to teach you what is meant and sometimes that takes a little more time. The main focus of this chapter though is prayer. Paul also states in verse 8:

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. (1 Tim. 2:8)

Watch yourself, check yourself, first of all we are to pray, but also lift your holy hands in prayer without anger or quarreling in your heart. That needs to be something you cleanse yourself of when you come to the throne as well.

There is some strong language in this chapter on women in the church. What I gleaned from this chapter as well as the whole of the Bible is that God did set up an authority for things. And that is what the directives are here. I love being a woman, I like dressing cute, and I like cute hair and jewelry. Maybe, and this is opinion and not something I can back up anywhere scripturally, but maybe the sin is putting too much focus on it. I think being a woman is a blessing and I for one will just keep having conversation with God over what I am supposed to glean from this one.

Please pray for your medical professionals today. I hear the hospitals are in better shape for sure. But they are the ones who have worked the hardest through the whole thing!

Fight the good fight!

1 Timothy 1

I’m going to unpack 1 and 2 Timothy over the next couple of weeks.  I have not worked ahead so we will be learning these books together if you care to read along and join me.

This a letter that Paul wrote to Timothy, whom he was leaving behind in Ephesus while Paul went to Macedonia.  The commentaries state that Paul meant for the letter to encourage Timothy to lead the church at Ephesus but it was also written to the church, it was not just for Timothy’s ears. Paul is urging Timothy to remain at Ephesus and to make sure proper doctrine is being taught. Have you ever wanted to run from the task that you felt God had put before you. As I read the commentary and I tend to read the same chapter in different versions that is the sense that I got. Timothy may have really wanted to go with Paul. Paul, after all looked on Timothy as a son so Timothy may have felt that he really wanted to stay under Paul’s wings and be taught rather than to be left in charge. Paul is encouraging him to stay but he is also telling him that to teach these people he must do it with love.

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”  (1 Tim 1:5)

I think it is duly noted that while Paul is issuing this charge to Timothy to stay behind and teach and direct the church he also tells him to do it with love. However, Paul does not negate the law.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully. (1 Tim. 1:8)

The law is there to direct us, but mostly it is there to point out the unlawful. We are not to live in the law. We allow it to point out what is unlawful. But then we know that Christ came to save us from the law. If we are living in relationship with Christ, the law tends to take care of itself because the Holy Spirit does the convicting.

In verses 12-17 Paul is thanking Jesus who saved him, and who has given him the strength to serve him. Paul recognizes here that he was a sinner, he actually lists some of his sins.

“though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 1:13-14)

Paul is recognizing his deep need for Christ. In verse 15 he said “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” You know for years I would read some of the words of Paul and I put him way way up on a pedestal as the chief christian like he had some power or walk with Christ that I could not obtain. However, when you read and dig into what Paul was saying, he truly recognizes his own sin and his need for Christ and is trying to point us to him because of his past not just because of his state of mind when he wrote his letters.

In the last paragraph of this chapter Paul gives his charge to Timothy.

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, (1 Tim. 1:18-19 ESV)

Wage the good warfare, hmm, the NIV says “you may fight the battle well”, the CSB says “fight the good fight”. I think this charge was meant to be given to all of us. I know I can personalize it for sure. The prophecies made about us when we become a child of God are the same that were given to Timothy. God made us for service to him. And because of the strength, He gives and the direction and the Holy Spirit working through us we can “wage the good warfare”, “fight the good fight” and fight the battle that is put before us, whatever it is, well.

What battle is before you today? Is it sickness of you or a loved one? Is it finances? Is it a wayward child or just parenting in general? Whatever it is:

This charge I entrust to you, (insert your name here), in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you (if you are a child of God you have prophecies over you), that by them you may wage the good warfare, (fight the good fight and fight that battle well) holding faith and a good conscience (hold tight to that faith child). By rejecting this, (don’t you dare ‘reject’ the faith) some have made a shipwreck of their faith.

Keep holding on, keep fighting well and the best way to go to battle with the enemy is ON YOUR KNEES!

Pray for our President and our government leaders today.

 

Faith, Resolve & Grace

Today my reading was 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1. Paul, along with Silas and Timothy are writing this 2d letter to the church at Thessolonica. Paul addresses this letter first with a greeting and a thanksgiving. Apparently the church in Thessolonica is still experiencing afflictions and persecutions, however they remain steadfast in their faith even while enduring. Paul addresses them and tells them that he is using them as an example in their faith to other churches. While Paul I am sure means this as an encouragement to them, can you imagine how it could have made them feel?

I have had things in my life that I have to admit I have really wanted to say to God that if I was enduring only to be an encouragement to others then I didn’t want to be so.  Sometimes life is just hard and if you are like me I have wondered why in the world it had to be so hard at times. I am trying to live my life rightly and I am trying to walk in step with him. What more do I have to do to get the easier life. Paul also goes on to tell them that sometimes our suffering is what makes us worthy of the kingdom of God. I have felt ashamed before when I would get so whiny about things and circumstances and I took a “why me Lord” approach to life that when I look at what Jesus endured for me on the cross then my “why me’s” hold very little water. Paul tells them in this passage that God will repay those who afflict you. and that he will grant relief to those who are afflicted. When others are bringing persecution and afflictions on God’s children they will one day pay. And if we just keep on walking and staying steadfast in our faith He will also grant relief.

This has been a hard week. There have been hard things going on in our world. However, I can’t not think that God is still on the throne and that He is working things for His utmost glory in our world. Some days, I don’t want to be an example for others, there I said it, but if we are walking in step with Him and if we are trying to walk on purpose with Him then that is exactly what happens. Wouldn’t it be nice to just check out for a while and bury our heads in the sand but that is not what we are called to do. Paul ends this chapter of his letter like this:

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 These. 1:11-12

I pray this for you and I pray this for me that God will make us worthy of his calling. I pray that he will give us resolve. Sometimes that’s the only way to get through a hard week. I pray that every work of faith done by you and by me BY HIS POWER will glorify the Lord Jesus! And I pray for grace! Grace to you, Grace to me and Grace to our country and our world. Lord Jesus give us steadfast faith, give us resolve and give us GRACE!

 

Help from the Lord!

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:17-19 ESV

This Psalm was written by David. The commentaries I read really do not give a lot of extra information on when David would have written this particular Psalm. But what we do know about David is that he had to learn to rely pretty heavily on God. He had some good days and he had some very hard days. David was anointed to be the next King of Israel at a very young age. He then went to battle, was befriended by Saul and especially Saul’s son Jonathan. He had great success on the battlefield but as the people began to think highly of David Saul allowed the big ole green eyed jealousy monster to get into him and he began to pursue David to kill him. David had to leave the home he once knew, the palace because at one time Saul had invited him to come live in the palace. Saul had started out enjoying David’s presence. David played beautiful music and he was a warrior for God. But then as Saul’s jealousy grew David had to leave and was on the run from Saul for approximately 7 years. So I said all of that to say that David did not have an easy life even after having been anointed to be King for quite a while. This gives a lot of credence to David when he says “my foot slips” and the language “If the Lord had not been my help”. David had learned how to depend on God even when things were not going his way. He had many cares yet he had learned to allow the consolations of God cheer him up.

I find that the closer I remain in fellowship with the Lord that I don’t tend to stay down in a pit of despair for very long. Oh I will still find myself going into the pit and there are days I will even wallow just a little bit. But I do find that if I drag my cares to Him. Daily. Yes even the ones that hurt my heart but I am not able to change the circumstances at the time, that He will give me consolations to “cheer my soul”. Sometimes that is in His word and sometimes it is the way He uses others in my life.

Thank you for the prayers, the Lord is faithful and many people have been faithful to be instruments of peace and cheer to me. Let’s all try to be these instruments of peace and cheer today.

Judgment or Justice

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  (Matt. 7:1-2 ESV)

I really struggled with what to write this morning.  This verse above stuck out to me immediately with my reading this morning. It was like it was branded into my heart as soon as I read it. When that happens I usually know immediately that that is what God wants me to ponder or to write about. He wants me to learn something. However, this morning, I wanted to skip it, I wanted to find something feel good and more uplifting to my heart to write about. But I can’t find the words of feel good today. I am angry, I am hurt, I do not want to be diplomatic. I don’t like things the way they are. I am ready for coronavirus to go away. I want the riots to stop. I want all police officers to be good and honest and law abiding as they are supposed to be. I do not want there to be thugs who lay in wait for someone to go to a bank in the middle of the night. I wish I were the person I want to be, that did things as soon as I feel a prompting from the Holy Spirit. So I am struggling. Oh how I want to turn back the clock before Monday morning early hours and I want my friend Melissa to not go to the bank at the wee hours. I want to turn back the clock and I wish the police officer had not put his knee into George Floyds neck and left it there until he was unconscious and unresponsive and then worse. I wish this 18 year old kid who took my friends life had made a better decision and a better choice than to point a gun and decide he was going to rob someone and take her life. I don’t want people to burn down businesses and churches. I want to make the better choice. I want to be the one who points others to Christ and not to destruction. But in my anger I am really having a hard time today.

This verse says “with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged”. Oh my friends I have to realize that many times if others judged me the way I am prone to judge I would be in a sad state of affairs. I remember years ago, (wish I could put a true timeline to it) when I read that verse and got it for the first time. What measure do I use to judge? Truthfully, I am blessed, I don’t know what it is like to be hungry, not truly hungry. I don’t know what it is like to be truly poor. And most of us in America don’t. I do know grief and I do know hurt. I do know heartbreak but I don’t know yours. I pray that even in the midst of this hurt and this pain and this craziness going on in the world that I can find a little compassion for my fellow humans! I want to see others and what they feel and not just bring judgment down. I am saddened by the state of affairs. I am saddened that lives have been lost in tragic ways. I am sad and it is hard for my heart to get past it. I’m not going to lie but I pray I can be a part of the solution and not stir the problems. I want justice. I want justice for George Floyd. I want justice for Melissa. I want justice for America. But I don’t want to judge.

The definition of justice is the quality of being just; righteousness; equitableness, or moral rightness. There is no one who can say that what happened to George Floyd nor to Melissa was right or equitable or even moral. The definition of judgement is an opinion or conclusion, a decision of a court or judge, a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment. It is not my right to judge others but it is our right and our privilege as Americans to expect justice. I pray that my heart can discern the difference today.

Please pray for the educators and students today. Please pray for the families who have lost loved ones today. Please pray for me today too if you have an extra minute. And please forgive me for this rambling post today.