Archive for : September, 2017

Reflections

Today is a day to pause and reflect over our readings. John noted in our readings this week that if we were “walking in the Light” – that we would enjoy both fellowship with God’s people and with God. So, a very important question to reflect on is – “Am I walking in the Light?” For John also noted in our reading that one can claim they have fellowship with God but if they are walking in darkness (continue to hold on to sin) then that claim is a lie! Walking in the Light does not require perfection in my performance but it does require a core focus that it’s no longer about me and it is all about God and His Son (Col. 3:1-4).

Reflections to consider

Jesus knows that he is God. Yet he prepares himself to wash his disciples’ dirty, grimy, smelly, filthy feet and dry them off with a towel. He is willing to perform for his disciples a task that was so demeaning and degrading, the disciples wouldn’t do it for him, much less for one another. In the first century, people didn’t wear shoes. They either went barefoot or wore sandals. They didn’t have sidewalks and paved streets. Instead, they walked on dirt and mud. When guests would come to your home, they would take their sandals off at the door, and usually a servant would be there to wash their feet. And in a hired banquet room like this, an attendant would have been there to wash the feet. But at the Last Supper, evidently there was no servant to do this. So the disciples pinched their nose and held their breath and left their feet unwashed. Why didn’t any of these disciples see this need? Their problem was one we wrestle with in our time: they were focused on themselves; Jesus was focused on them. They were looking out for number one; he was looking out for numbers one through twelve. They needed, and we need, to open our eyes. We need to see the hurt, the hopelessness, the helplessness, the heartache that is all around us as an opportunity to be used to touch and to change lives for the glory of Christ. (52 Weeks with Jesus)

1 John 2

There are a lot of people who claim they are in Jesus, but Jesus says the proof is in the walk! One who is a Christian is one who strives to pattern their lives after Jesus and His teachings. We must therefore model our lives after His life and we must adhere to what was taught by the apostles who delivered the commands of the Lord (2 Peter 3:2). This text echoes what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:21! Verses 3-6 better define for us what it means to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). John sees our being “in him” and living “in him” as the same thing. So if we live in him, we must walk as Jesus walked. Jesus left an example that we should walk “in his steps”. Jesus was not interested in mere ritual and form; he was interested in our lives being God-like in all we do. For we are called to strive to take on the very image of God!

1 John 1

In our reading we come to a better understanding of what grace is all about. For John declared that if we walk in the Light – that we have fellowship with one another and we have the gift of on going forgiveness. John makes it clear that walking in the Light doesn’t mean that we are sinless, but striving to be sinless! For this is what grace is all about! As we strive to grow and be faithful to our Lord, our many failings are continually forgiven by the blood of Christ. So long as I continue to strive to walk in the Light, I enjoy fellowship with my brethren, fellowship with My Savior, and the promise eternal fellowship with my God. Praise God for His amazing gift of grace!!

Titus 3

Paul when writing to Titus told him to remind the Christians that they were called to live at peace, as best they could, with the world around them. “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” One of the things that Paul stressed in this letter is that we are to be model citizens, neighbors, and coworkers. It is sad when those who wear the name of Christ are violent, disobedient, and slander those with whom they disagree with! As Christians we are called to be light in the sea of darkness. For as the world watches our lives they are to see a stark difference from how those in the world respond and treat the world around them and how we respond and treat the world around us! What the world needs is not more darkness, it needs more light!!

Titus 2

The grace of God teaches those who come to Him to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions. The quality of life demanded of one who is a Christian is revolutionary. Paul said that this was the quality of life that a Christian needed to live so that the grace of God could be extended to others by the influence of Christians around them. Christians live in a world that surrounds them with evil. It is important for each Christian to know that the grace of God brings his salvation, and his righteous living influences the unrighteousness and ungodliness around him.

Titus 1

Paul as he writes to Titus notes that he sent Titus to Crete to put everything in order. One of the core things that needed to be done to accomplish that was to appoint elders in every congregation. Key to the growth and stability of the Lord’s church is godly leadership! Thus Paul laid down the qualifications of those who were to be appointed as elders. One qualification that stands out is that these men must be able to know and defend the truth. For an elder is to always be on guard against those who would teach false doctrine and corrupt the truth. So it is very important that those men who would be elders must be students of the word. For the truth is always under attack and the elders must stand between the flock and the wolves that are always lurking, looking to destroy the sheep!

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. When I reflect back of am reminded of Paul’s words as he faced the end of his life. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4:7-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬
I pray that is what each of us will be able to declare when we face the end our lives!

Reflections to consider

“We often think of greatness in terms of accumulation and accomplishment. The people we tend to call great are people who either have a lot or they’ve done a lot. We equate greatness with success. The measuring sticks we use are how big, how much, or how many. If that’s the criteria, few of us would qualify for even the semifinals of becoming the GOAT. I suspect, however, that there are many—maybe even you!—who could qualify for consideration. But I wouldn’t use the world’s definition; I would use God’s. There’s a difference between doing great things and being a great person. On several occasions Jesus schooled his disciples, and schools us, about true greatness. If you have even a tablespoon of desire to be considered great in Christ’s eyes, then you should know Jesus’s secret to greatness. It’s service. The world measures greatness by how many people serve you. Jesus measures greatness by how many people you serve. The world measures greatness by who is in first place. Jesus measures greatness by who is in last place. The world measures greatness by those who get, but Jesus measures greatness by those who give. That’s why I believe the way we serve others is by giving our lives away.”
(52 Weeks with Jesus)

2 Timothy 4

Paul declared: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  These are the words I pray each of us will be able to proclaim when we come to the end of our lives! Paul said that he “fought the good fight.” It is important that we never lose sight that we are in a war! The battle that we are in is not about flesh and blood, no it is a spiritual battle. It is a battle waged for our souls and the souls of others. It is a fight that we are in until our lives draw to a close. It is a battle that we keep on waging; there is no rest until the end. Paul also declared that he had finished the race. The race is a marathon and it takes place during our whole life. Each of us are called to “run the race marked out for us” – the course marked out for you could be different from me, but no matter the course our race takes us we are called to persevere and finish the race. Paul said that he “kept the faith” – until the end! So as Paul closes his life he declares that he has been faithful to his task. Keep in mind it is not how we start that counts but how we finish! 

2 Timothy 3

I have always been struck by what Paul warned Timothy of in this text – that there will people who have the form of godliness but deny its power. (Tex Williams said this about those people that I think is worth repeating) “They have a form of godliness. In other words, he is saying that their godliness is only a form. They are people who are in the church, and people who profess to be Christians. They may go to a church service somewhere and sing. They may listen to sermons. They may even have the appearance of being righteous. That is a form of godliness. But the fact that they sing praises to God does not mean that their heart is right, or that their lives are right. Every Christian needs to understand that he must be genuine and develop the characteristics that profess that he is a follower of God. Christians today also can have a form of religion. Going to church every Sunday, saying a few prayers, singing a few songs, dropping in a dollar, and listening to the sermons is a form of religion. Then, that kind of Christian says, ‘The rest of my life belongs to me.’ This is really a form of ungodliness. Paul told Timothy to have nothing to do with these kind of people. He did not mean that Timothy should not try to teach them. He was saying that he must be careful in the way that he related to them. He must not participate in their ungodliness.”

2 Timothy 2

Paul notes in our reading that in a house there are all kinds of articles. Some are clean and some are not. Paul was comparing members of the church to different kinds of vessels. This is a lesson for all Christians. If they are going to be God’s children, protected and owned by God, they must purge wickedness from their lives. Purging that wickedness and ungodliness is the responsibility of each individual Christian. That is the only way a Christian can become the kind of vessel that God can use in His work. God protects and provides for His children, but the responsibility of purging their lives from sin is up to them. They must make themselves useful to God. That is the principle that Paul is emphasizing. So, if we want to be that vessel that God can use for special purposes, we must frist look into that spiritual mirror.

2 Timothy 1

As we read this letter from Paul we need to keep in mind that he is drawing to the close of his mission and life. So, Paul in this letter reminds Timothy the needs to hold true to the pattern of sound doctrine. He also encouraged Timothy not to be fearful as he face the dark forces that wanted to destroy the church with false doctrine. “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” A sense of urgency filters through Paul’s words as he focused on Timothy and pleaded, what you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching. He was anxious that Timothy comprehend the importance and urgency of following through with his instructions. He told him to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you. Each generation is so charged, for the gospel must be presevered in purity. We must protect it from destructive teachings. It is a serious responsibility, one we should not take lightly!

1 Timothy 6

Paul told Timothy in our reading “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Would you consider yourself as being content? Paul reminded Timothy that one of the keys to our Christian walk is being content with a Godly focus. What does that mean? The word translated “contentment” is used as a noun here. The idea is that of a state or condition in life in which one needs no other help or support. The idea that one can come to a place in life in which we are complete, without having enough money and goods, is foreign to us. We intellectually accept the fact that money in itself cannot bring us ‘contentment,’ but we are still hooked on the premise that it is in some way essential. Our preoccupation with material security makes this quite clear. We can live our lives with “I wish” on our lips each day or we can live our lives thanking God for what He has provided that day. Your choice will determine your happiness in life!

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. There have a number of events over the last weeks that remind us that in a single moment our lives can be changed! So, something to consider and reflect upon is – when we face those moments, is our faith strong enough to weather the storm?

Reflections to consider

Zacchaeus appears in the Bible not because he was looking for Jesus but because Jesus was looking for him. If Jesus had passed by that tree and never looked up, we would have never even known who Zacchaeus was. Jesus found the guy trying to find him! Jesus beckoned, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19: 5). He didn’t say, “I would like to stay at your house,” but “I must stay at your house. I want to stay at your house. I am going to stay at your house.” This was a man who always ate Thanksgiving dinner alone. When he cooked out, he needed only one steak because nobody else would eat with him. This is the only time we are ever told that Jesus invited himself to be someone’s guest, and yet he chose a chief tax collector. Jesus could have stayed with anybody. Anybody would have gladly accepted Jesus, but Jesus didn’t ask the mayor of the city, the president of the bank, the rabbi of the mega-synagogue, or the chief of police. He reached out to the reject. (52 Weeks with Jesus)

1 Timothy 5

What struck me in our reading is Paul’s charge to care for our families. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” As I have noted before the command to “honor our fathers and mothers” has to do with respecting them and caring for them. For those of us who’s parents are aging this becomes an on going concern. In this chapter we see how God designed His social net to care for those in need, first the family should care for those in their family and then the community- the church should care for those that have no one they can depend on. Yet, Paul put qualifications for those that the church is to help, so that the church does not not enable those who can care for themselves.

1 Timothy 4

Paul tells Timothy in our reading that The Spirit revealed to him that as Christianity grew and spread that other forces would come into play to distort the truth! The truth as it was revealed by the Holy Spirit, was something that was believed and taught by the apostles as they received divine inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Whenever, and wherever Christianity was preached, people believed, but Satan’s influence was seen immediately, and people who once believed began to deviate from the truth. “Some would abandon their faith, and instead of following the truth, they would follow deceiving spirits and doctrines taught by demons. It is important to understand that there is an evil spirit world in existence, and that this spirit world is tuned into Satan and influences men to do evil. When Paul talked about deceiving spirits, he was referring to men who preach a doctrine that was contrary to the sound faith that Paul had revealed. When he talked about the things taught by demons, he was talking about things taught that are not in accordance with the will of the Lord. He was talking about men who have been led astray.” (Tex Williams)

1 Timothy 3

As we read 1 Timothy we realize that Paul is instructing Timothy on the way the church is to operate as God’s family. Paul makes it very clear by the language he uses that these instructions are NOT suggestions – but commands! When Paul was talking about the qualifications of the elders/ overseers he said they “must be” – The word ‘must’ indicates that the overseer is required to have these qualities; they are not optional, idealistic virtues. One of the things that stands out is that Paul makes it very clear that it was God’s design that elders were to be men that were married and had children (believing children – Titus 1:6). The concept of male spiritual leadership in the church is made very clear from Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy 2:11-16. The pattern God designed for our physical families are played out in our spiritual family – (God’s household, the church)!  

1 Timothy 2

Paul in our reading reminds us that we need to be praying for all people especially those who are in authority. We need to pray that those who are in authority will bring and keep order so that we can worship and share our faith. When Paul says those words I am reminded of who was ruling at the time Paul wrote those words. So, whoever is ruling, no matter how evil and corrupt the government might be – we need to keep them in prayer. For as Romans 13 reminds us that God has put in place these institutions to keep peace and maintain order. I know that I do not thank God enough for the peace and security I enjoy in this country. Let’s never forget that the end game is sharing our faith!