Great Salvation

Hebrews 2

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1

When you see therefore, you know it is talking about what was previous. What the author is saying here is, because of what you already learned, you should pay close attention to it so that you don’t drift away. Away from what? Away from your salvation. If we pay such close attention to prophecy from angels and learned from them, how can we neglect what Jesus has said to us. 

“For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Hebrews 2:2-4

The word was spoken by Jesus, attested by eyewitnesses and proven by signs, wonders and miracles and gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit. How could we not pay close attention?  God has never given angels any dominion over anything. As we said in Hebrews 1 Angels are ministering spirits. The writer here quotes Psalm 8:4-6

“‘What is man, that you are mindful of him or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’ Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” Hebrews 2:6-8

Who are we? That you God would even think of us. Man is lower than the angels and yet Jesus took on flesh and became human just like us. Nothing is out of the control of Jesus. We may not always see it, but it is under his control. 

“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9

Jesus was fully man, made lower than the angels, yet he was fully God, crowned with glory and honor yet he took our place and tasted death for us all. 

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.  That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers” Hebrews 2:10-11

“It was fitting” I struggled a bit with that phrase. Why should I think it was fitting for Jesus to die on the cross? But God added humanity to his deity through Jesus coming to earth so that Jesus could show us real love what real sacrifice looks like. And through it all, Jesus calls us brothers. 

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps but he helps the offspring of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:14-16 

Jesus shared flesh and blood with us and then He took on death in order to destroy the power of death. In order to destroy any power the devil has or thinks he has and through it He delivers us from the fear of death. Jesus did this for us, we are the offspring of Abraham. 

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:17-18

Jesus became like us, became flesh and blood so that he could be a high priest who could identify with our temptations and our sufferings. He is our high priest and because of the cross He knows suffering. You know how when you are going through something and you talk to someone who is going through something similar it makes you feel a little better or you at least have someone to identify with. It’s the same thing, we have a high priest, Jesus, who knows suffering and we can take anything to Him. 

Oh sweet Jesus, we can never thank you enough for what you have done for us. You put on flesh, you walked this earth and you suffered and died for us on the cross. 

Please pray for the medical professionals today. Please pray for our country. 

The Radiance of the Glory of God!

Hebrews 1

No one is completely sure who the author of the book of Hebrews was. Some early scholars say Paul, however those who have more knowledge than me say that is unlikely because of the way the author writes when compared to the letters known to be from Paul. Some say Barnabas, Martin Luther thought Apollos, while others have said Priscilla along with her husband Aquilla. But no matter who wrote it, we know that all scripture is God breathed and this book has a lot to tell us over the next few days/weeks. 

The first chapter of Hebrews is simply explaining to us the difference in Jesus and the angels and the way God communicates with us now versus the ways he communicated in early Bible times. 

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Hebrews 1:1-2

Before Jesus came to earth, God spoke through the prophets, although this also points out that Jesus always was. Many stories and events that happened in the Old Testament were always pointing to Jesus. Jesus was there when the world was created and He was always part of the plan. I love how the next verses refer to Jesus. 

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Hebrews 1:3-4

I love that term he is the “radiance of the glory of God”. His nature is fully, completely, exactly the imprint of God’s nature and he upholds the universe by a word. That is all it takes. And after he was sacrificed on the cross for us, after the purification of sin, he took the throne with His Father, at His right hand. Many people make the mistake of worshipping angels. However, angels are not meant to be worshipped. Ever. Worship is reserved only for God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, the trinity. Angels are around the throne, they are never part of the throne 

When you read the first chapter of Hebrews you can see the distinction between Jesus and the angels. The angels are ministering spirits. They have no other choice but to be ministering spirits. That is why they were created. And while Jesus ministers to us and to our needs, that is a posture that He takes on for us. It was His choice to serve. His place is and always was on the throne next to His Father. He came to earth as a baby, grew in wisdom and stature and learned and taught as a child, ministered as an adult and was sacrificed for us on the cross. He chose to exemplify servanthood by washing feet and healing but at any given time as He says in His last earthly days He could have said enough is enough and taken the throne. Jesus chose to see the plan through because of his love for us. Stand in awe of that today! 

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” Hebrews 1:10-12

Please pray for our president and our country today! 

Meeting by Chance?

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Philemon

This little book is the only letter of Paul’s that is in the Bible that is a letter to just an individual. Actually it is to Philemon and his family but it is not meant for a community. After reading commentary what can be gleaned from this letter is that Philemon had a slave that had fled his household and maybe went to Rome and met up with Paul. It is not known if he knew Paul before or if this was a chance meeting that they came to realize they had a mutual acquaintance in Philemon. Paul and Philemon were obviously friends. 

“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers,”  Philemon 4 

This verse lends to believing that Paul and Philemon have a history with Paul saying always. In fact it is believed that Paul had led Philemon and his family to Christ. At any rate Paul was in the habit of praying for Philemon. It wasn’t just a one time prayer. I had a friend once who really opened my eyes to prayer and she pointed out how many times someone may say “I’m praying for you” in passing and yet do they, do we really do it when we walk away? She also stated how many times does someone come back and say “hey thanks for praying” yet in the back of your mind you think “oh, I forgot”. Prayer is serious business. If I tell you I am praying for you, I’m going to pray for you. Sometimes it may be that I say “I’m going to say a prayer for you.” Then it may not go on my prayer list, (believe me it’s a long list) of the people I pray for on a regular basis, but I can assure you that if I say I will say a prayer I am going to say a prayer. Paul was in the habit of praying for Philemon so there was relationship there. 

Paul is appealing to Philemon and his family in this letter to forgive and to open themselves back up to Onesimus who had found Christ through his encounter with Paul and was returning to them possibly to make things right after having fled them and for anything he may have taken from them when he left. Now back in those days what Onesimus had done could have been punishable by death, even possibly being crucified. But Paul was appealing to Philemon because now Onesimus was more than a worker to him, he was a brother in Christ. Paul points out that Philemon, as a christian has to ‘do what is required (v 8) but he wants Philemon to forgive and accept Onesimus back out of love. 

“Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you – I Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus – I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.” Philemon 9-10

The things I love about this story is the underlying story. It never is clear if Onesimus knew Paul before he fled to Rome. But the people who have spent way more time than me studying seem to suggest that the meeting between Onesimus and Paul was a chance one. Onesimus fled Philemon as a different person than he was returning to him. In Rome he possibly went to work for the Roman officials who were guarding Paul while Paul was under house arrest. Paul apparently befriended him and led him to Christ. Even if he did know Paul before, it would be a stretch to think that he was seeking Paul out, I think. This gives me great comfort in the way I know God works behind the scenes. I have experienced myself chance meetings that turned out to not be so chance. That later I could look back and see God’s hand on it. I think, and I have told you before I am not scholar, but I think that God orchestrated this meeting. We never find out exactly how Philemon handled the return of Onesimus, I hope he handled it the way Paul appealed to him. I hope I will do the same if I am faced with people who I feel have hurt me in some way when and if they return for forgiveness. 

Please pray for the small business owners and the service industry. Also, please continue to pray for our country! 

Only by Grace

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Titus 3

This is my favorite chapter of the book of Titus. It starts out with Paul telling Titus to “remind them”. To me it seems that Paul is telling him to just keep on keeping on, keep telling them about Jesus but that also that they have to be submissive to the authority around them and to be prepared to do the work of Jesus. He tells him to avoid quarreling. This doesn’t mean to roll over, but to avoid it and to be gentle and to show courtesy to everyone. In other words BE KIND! But my favorite part is coming up. 

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7

We have been talking a lot in these chapters about how bad the Cretans were and how bad people are today and how bad the world is. Paul is telling Titus here remember what we came from! You see I know deep in my heart and in my soul that if I didn’t spend a little time with Jesus every single day that I would be a wretched wretched woman! That if left on my own and not reminded I also could get very pious very quickly. It feels like I could be walking a tight rope every day between thinking too much of myself to thinking too little of myself. I can be quick to get all spiritual or spiraling down a slippery slope to who knows what because of my wretchedness. We all need to remember what we came from. What did Jesus save us from? What path could we have taken? It’s real easy to get, as I said yesterday, on a spiritual high horse and if we aren’t careful to look down from it at those bad ole Cretans and think small of them. But that is not showing the love of Jesus. And when I really stop and think about some of the choices I made before I knew Christ and started walking with Him, I realize that where I am today is only by grace! That I was saved by His goodness and loving kindness and His mercy. And I have this hope only because of Him and who He is in my life. I never want to forget where I came from because it only proves to make me so grateful to Him. And out of that gratitude of what He has done for me makes me want to be a light for Him. I don’t want to sit up on a spiritual high horse. I want to remember, and I pray that I never look down on anyone for their choices and decisions because I realize how very close I was to making choices that could have destroyed me. I pray that I can be a light to show them Jesus’ love. Because I am who I am only by His grace. 

Lord Jesus I pray never let me forget, never let us forget what we came from. Help us to be kind and to be a light in this world and to show Your love and Your goodness to others Lord. Keep us off that spiritual high horse and walking with You Lord. Help us to remember who we belong to and that is only by Your grace and mercy! 

Please pray for your pastor and your church today.  Also, please keep praying for our country. 

Lead by example!

(Repeat)

Titus 2

Paul is giving directives for living, as well as teaching in this chapter. He is telling Titus first of all to teach sound doctrine. This is the first and foremost. He was to teach the older men and women how to live rightly with God. At first glance some of the directives we would think might have come along with age and wisdom anyway but we have to remember that he was in Crete and was there to teach the Cretans, who we have already pointed out had their own sets of issues. Then he tells him how the older men and women should train the younger men and women. One of the things that he points out is that in these things, in living upright self controlled lives we are bringing credit to the word of God. Or at least we are not bringing discredit to it. Basically as christians we are supposed to try to live in such a way that the outside world has nothing bad to say about us. We are to teach and to live by example. 

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned so that an opponent may be put to shame having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:7-8

This just keeps reminding me of Jesus words. 

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35 

I find myself as I am trying to explain this chapter afraid that it is coming across very legalistic and I am always much much more about relationship than I am legalism. I feel like that if you get your relationship right with Christ, and if you spend time with him that He will show you what needs to change. However, there are things that are very important for us to remember as the world looks on us as christians. And some of the things that Paul points out to Titus here are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and steadfastness, the women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers nor “slaves to much wine”. This can sound like a list of do’s and don’ts, however when you dig a little deeper you know that the Cretans had been living pretty much however they wanted to. Titus was sent to be an example to them and to teach them how to live godly and upright lives. 

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. Titus 2:11-12

If ever in my lifetime did the church need to be setting itself apart living godly lives and being an example to others I believe it is now. It is always to be this way but now especially. There is so much going on around us and the christian church is being persecuted while we (generally speaking) are sitting up on our spiritual high horses. We are to be living by example, in love, in faith, steadfast. We should be loving our fellow man. I have reached a point I can hardly even watch the news because of all that is going on in the world. I wrote a few weeks ago about how easy it would be to hole myself up in my little corner of the world and just let the rest work itself out. But there has to be a balance. How can I show the love of Christ to the world even in the midst of the crazy stuff going on? I can start with a smile, with the opening of doors and a you go first attitude. I can embrace people for who they are and if given the opportunity teach sound doctrine, the love of Jesus. I can love and lead by example, hopefully trying to live in such a way that no one can find anything bad to say about me. I can watch my mouth and not slander or gossip (ohh I know this one is probably the hardest one for me). I can do my best to live self-controlled and upright and godly so that this present age and those around me will hopefully see Jesus in me and want what He has to give me and know that if He will help me through every day that He will help you too. 

Please pray for the educators and students today. Also continue to keep our country in your prayers. 

Preach the Word!

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2 Timothy 4

This is the last chapter of Paul’s letters to Timothy. He starts this chapter giving Timothy a charge. Not a request, not a suggestion, a charge. Preach the Word!

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 1-2

Many times we tell our children “remember whose you are”. This is in essence what Paul was telling Timothy when he tells him “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus”. He reminds him that Jesus is the only one to judge the living and the dead, that by his appearing and his kingdom “preach the word”. Yes that is a charge for pastors, to be ready in season and out of season. But I think it is a charge for all of us. We should all be studying the word in order to be ready in season or out of season. For we never know when we may have to defend, or to tell a seeking person, what we believe. It is our responsibility to study the word so that we can know good doctrine when we hear it.

Paul goes on in this chapter talking about a day when people will have “itching ears” to hear what they want to hear. Well I think we can say that we are living there too right now. People will turn away from truth and wander away into myths. Sound familiar?

I think this letter is beginning to sound a little like maybe Paul isn’t so sure He is going to be rescued from this prison. In the next paragraph Paul tells Timothy he has already been poured out as a drink offering. What he is saying here is I have given all I can give. I have nothing left in me to give. But he also lets it be known that when it’s his time he is ready.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Paul is letting Timothy know that if this is the end of his earthly ministry that he is ready. He is claiming his crown of righteousness and acknowledges that there are others who have and worked and loved also.

Paul also goes along to request a face to face with Timothy. He asks him to come to him and to pick up a few things along the way. He asks him for a cloak that he had left behind and his books and scrolls. This tells me that Paul is not finished learning. He may know that he is nearing the end of his life but he still hungers to learn. As we should all do. I pray that the Lord will allow me to learn right up until the day he takes me home.

“The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” 2 Timothy 4:22

The commentary I read made it sound like this may have been Paul’s last written words. I am not sure if they are but I can tell you that should be our prayer for all people. So for today I leave you with this.

The Lord be with your spirit and Grace be with you! What more could we ask.

Please pray for our President, our country and tomorrow’s election.  And if you haven’t already be sure to vote! 

Last Days?

(Repeat)

2 Timothy 3

Who knew that 1 and 2 Timothy were so fully relevant to the times we are living right now? I sure didn’t when I started this. But then the Bible is always relevant isn’t it? This chapter starts out talking about the last days. But this is not just talking about wars and rumors of wars as is pointed out in scripture as signs of the last days. This one is talking about people and their hearts..

“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:2-5

Sound familiar? We have a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world right now, but I can’t help but think there have been other times in history that people had to think they had a lot of crazy stuff going on. I am no scholar so I can’t tell you this is it, the Lord is coming back soon. And scripture says that no one knows the time but God alone. But what I can tell you is that God is not surprised by the things that are happening. God still has a purpose and a plan and whether this is the last days and Jesus is coming back tomorrow or a hundred years from tomorrow we have things to learn about the times and yes we can identify with what Paul is saying here. Paul tells Timothy to avoid such people. He also gives an example here from Moses day and the people who opposed him. And as he is telling Timothy to avoid them he also assures him.

“But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.” 2 Timothy 3:9

Our take away from that is this, that as we look at the people who follow the descriptions in verses 2 – 5 we can know that those people will not get very far and their folly will be plain to all. I know that it seems like they are getting very far but remember who is still on the throne and none of this can happen without filtering through His hands. Next Paul is very emphatic with where Timothy’s focus should be.

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.” 2 Timothy 3:10-13

Paul is talking about how the Lord has rescued him from prison in the past. Mind you, Paul is sitting in prison and telling Timothy of his rescue yet at the very moment he is in chains. Paul no doubt is realizing that Jesus can rescue him again, but at this point he doesn’t know if he will or not. He went on to tell Timothy that if you are going to be a believer in Christ you will be persecuted for it. So why are we so surprised by the persecutions that come now? What are we to do with them? Paul tells Timothy to hold on to the heritage of his faith. Timothy has the benefit of having a legacy that dates back to his childhood. But not everybody has that. But I think, and this is just my thoughts here that once you become a Christian we all have a legacy of faith that has gone down through the ages. You may not have a library of scriptures in your head but you can start where you are with learning and memorization and God can and will use them for comfort and peace.

The last two verses are my favorite of this chapter and have been favorites for a long time.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

No matter what kind of people you come up against, no matter the last days or not, no matter what kind of crazy you come in contact with today, you hang onto God and the scriptures and you will be complete and equipped for the work He calls you to do. If you are just starting the library in your head that one might be a good one to memorize!

Please pray for the service industry and small businesses. They have been hit hard this year. If you can shop local and if you can, tip well.

A Good Soldier

(Repeat)

2 Timothy 2

Have you ever thought about why when someone enlists in the military they go off to basic training? I am not as versed in this as others but it’s my understanding that when in basic training they take cell phones away and pretty much while in training to be a soldier they have very little contact with the outside world. The soldier eats, sleeps and works with fellow soldiers under a commanding officer. A good soldier is aiming to please his commanding officer. Much the same with athletes. A good athlete trains and competes by the rules and then may win the crown. He is not going to win the crown if he doesn’t train and play by the rules. Paul is using these as an example to say that we are to aim to please the one who enlisted us (Jesus) that we train and learn from Him in order to play by the rules and with it we will win the crown (which is winning others to Christ). Yes I truly believe that we are to be in the world and that we are to let our light shine among men. But maybe what Paul is saying here is that there is also one on one training we need to be doing with our commanding officer in order to lead others to Christ. (vv 1-5) The next verse kind of threw me.

“It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” 2 Timothy 2:6

I had to read that verse over and over because I thought we were supposed to offer back to God the first fruits. I read some commentary and I read this verse over and over in other translations. What I think Paul is saying here is that when you are working hard in the harvest like the hard working farmer, you will receive the first knowledge, and the first blessings. We can’t feed others if we are not in training ourselves, whether it be as an athlete, or a soldier or the farmer who is digging to learn so that we can go out and teach and lead. You will have to spend time in prayer and in study in order to be a good soldier for Christ.

Paul carries on to bring reference to the fact that he is still in chains.

“But the word of God is not bound!” 2 Timothy 2:9

There is one of those exclamation points. I love looking for them in scripture now. Paul is saying that while he is in prison he still has a purpose. That God still has a purpose for him. Oh how encouraging to me that even when sometimes I wonder if I am where I should be in life that God still has purpose for me and His word is not bound. What I am to do is to be obedient to Him and speak his truth and write and teach when and where He calls me to do so.  Whatever “prison” I think I am in, God can still use me.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

That is my prayer for today, for me and for you.  What I want more than anything is for God to approve of me. I want to rightly handle His word. I pray that I am rightly handling His word. Paul goes on again to talk about “irreverent babble”. Be careful who and what you are listening to.

Paul lays out another charge at the end of this chapter:

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22

God is calling us, Paul is challenging us to live with these things in mind. We are to pursue righteousness, we are to have faith, love others and do our best to live at peace with each other. Paul is not just telling Timothy how to live at peace and what he should be doing he is also goes on to tell Timothy to have nothing to do with arguments, ignorant controversies and quarreling. As the Lord’s servants we are not to be quarrelsome but kind to everyone and to be gentle. When I started this study of Timothy I had no idea how much of it would feel relevant to the times. (Why does that surprise me?) I do not think we are called to bury our head in the sand. Please hear that is not what I am saying here. I believe we are supposed to see what is going on around us but as it says in this chapter we as Christians should be kind, we should handle things with gentleness.

Lord help us today to handle your words with truth, help us to pursue righteousness, have faith, love others, live at peace with others and to be kind and gentle to those who may not see eye to eye with us.

Please pray today for your pastor and your churches. 

Guard the Deposits

(Repeat)

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 Timothy 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 Timothy 1:8

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 Timothy 1:12

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 Timothy 1:14

Please pray for the educators and the students.  Also, we have another hurricane! And this one appears to be heading straight for my kids on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Please pray for my kids and the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast. Pray this thing weakens and for zero property damage for all. 

Godliness with Contentment

(Repeat)

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 Timothy 6:4-5

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 Timothy 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 Timothy 6:11-12

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 Timothy 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 the medical professionals today.