Monthly Archives: October 2009

Titus 3

Not doing, Yes doing

I found the following scripture an interesting Möbius loop.

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life. These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone.Titus 3:5-8

Notice what I highlighted.

We were not saved because of the good things we did. But we are now ordered to be careful to do good deeds all the time.

The difference is the reason. It isn’t about us. It is about others. Even our salvation is about others. We could not do it, someone other than us, Jesus, had to do the good deed for us. Now we are free as a result of his good deed to do good deeds for others too.

Father, may I do good deeds all the time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For everyone. Jan

Titus 2

God, Jesus, the Bible

Most Sundays, as we drive home from church we’ll ask the boys what their lesson was about in the youth service. Their answer is usually something like, “God, Jesus, the Bible.” Informative huh? Well at least the 40,000 foot view is the correct one. A bit more detail would be nice.

Sometimes though we don’t need much more detail. We just need to look in the Bible to see what is plainly written there. One question that has often been asked is why do we say that Jesus is God? One very clear answer is in the verse below.

We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. – Titus 2:12b-13

Who’s glorious revelation is Paul telling Titus to look forward to? Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

What do you know? I guess the answer is God, Jesus, and the Bible; because Jesus is God, the Bible told me so.

Father, thank you that Paul spelled it out so clearly to Titus. May I not get too bogged down in details of unimportance, and truly look forward to your glorious appearing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What was your lesson about? Jan

Titus 1

Steadfast

Paul instructed Timothy to be sure that he doesn’t make a new believer a leader (1 Timothy 3:6). I think the following verse, where Paul is telling Titus how to choose leaders, gives some more insight as to why.

He must have a strong and steadfast belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with right teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. – Titus 1:9

If the believer does not have a steadfast belief, one that is fixed, unwavering, unchanging, firm, and unswerving, he can be discouraged into wrong teaching. He could even be moved off course into a rejection of his faith.

Like trees, we must have deep roots to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy. There is a reason our Lord sent his disciples out two-by-two.

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

When one wavers the other can help steady his frail friend. But pity the man who is alone – especially the inexperienced acolyte.

Father, may we be wise in whom we promote to more responsibility. Please grant us the wisdom needed and the courage to say no when it is best. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Steadfast is a firm foundation. Jan

2 Timothy 4

Dance of Joy

A few months ago we added a tiny bundle of energy to our family, a  puppy. Tanner has quickly grown into a rather large bundle of energy. From the start we wisely decided to train him to be in a dog-crate when we are not around to supervise. I say wisely because he chews on nearly everything. The bottom of crate is a plastic which makes an interesting clicking, scraping sound when Tanner’s paws move around on it.

In March of 1986 a TV series named Perfect Strangers premiered. One of the characters was a guy named Balki Bartokomous from the Mediterranean island of Mypos.

I bring him up because he was very much like Tanner, the lovable clueless friend to everyone. One other thing they share is the Dance of Joy.

Whenever something good happened in Balki’s life he would dance the Dance of Joy, a mix between the Dosado and the Hokey Pokey. Similarly, whenever Tanner hears someone approaching, he exuberantly dances the Dance of Joy in his crate. The plastic floor amplifies his padding paws and makes it sound almost like a tap-dancer’s shoes. In fact he is so happy at our appearing that his entire body is dancing.

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return. – 2 Timothy 4:8

I was struck by the phrase eagerly look forward.

Do I eagerly look forward to my Lord’s appearing?

Do I dance the Dance of Joy at the thought of it?

If I’m honest, I’ll have to admit that I’m not. The enemy of my soul has convinced me deep-down, in the core of my being, that the here-and-now is somehow better than Heaven, the Kingdom restored, the New Heaven and the New Earth. What a filthy thieving scumbag! And I’ve let him do it…

I see that I have a lot to learn from my dog.

Lord, I want to receive the prize. Not because I look for acclaim, but because I truly want to want you more than anything else. Please forgive me for not taking back that which you’ve already given me – the glorious hope of the eternal future. May I do better. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let your soul dance! Jan

2 Timothy 3

Exposed

Recently I was in a local courtroom where a man who asserts that he is a Christian, that he does not lie, and that he reads his bible at least one hour every morning, was testifying.  When you first meet him you think he is a holy man; he says the right words and even performs many of the right actions. He spends a lot of time on the internet in various forums and blogs trying to teach other Christians “the truth”. He does not get away with it for long. If you spend any time with him you quickly recognize him as a fool with a depraved mind and a counterfeit faith.

During the 15 minute hearing he was proven, with evidence, that he was lying under oath at three separate times! When caught, he countered that he didn’t have his calendar with him. Yet he was the one who instigated the court action because of dates, times, and places. He stated his lies quite authoritatively and didn’t make the calendar excuse until he was proven to be lying. Court was exactly where his calendar should have been, he knew that. Truly pathetic.

I think the following verses, and parts of the ones that I didn’t list, explain him. Paul predicted to Timothy that in the last days there would be guys like him.

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.
They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.
And these teachers fight the truth just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses. Their minds are depraved, and their faith is counterfeit. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as happened with Jannes and Jambres.
– 2 Timothy 3:3, 5, 8-9

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.

They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.

And these teachers fight the truth just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses. Their minds are depraved, and their faith is counterfeit. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as happened with Jannes and Jambres. – 2 Timothy 3:3, 5, 8-9

His mind is so depraved that he thinks he lost the court case because the judge was a woman. He does not connect the fact that he perjured himself and could have been sentenced for that crime as contributing to his loss. He is a fool and everyone recognized him as such, including the judge.

Lord, please have mercy on this man. He needs to truly come to know the real Jesus, not the one his warped mind has fashioned. Please do whatever it takes to save him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please stop fighting the truth. Jan

2 Timothy 2

Pure

Interesting how we measure things in different levels of purity. Depending on the thing being discussed, some level of impurity may not be at all harmful or blemishing. However, once you pass a certain threshold it becomes spoiled or impure.

For example, to be considered pure gold, the metal must be 24 karat. That means that only .1% can be some other substance. In China, pure gold is called “Chuk Kam” and can have up to 1% impurity.

There are at least 12 different purity standards for water. And air quality is measured in how many airborne allergens and pollutants it contains. For instance, HEPA filters must remove at least 99.97% of 0.3 micrometre in size airborne pollutants to receive that designation. So depending on the application, purity has many definitions.

I noticed that Paul was referring to several types of purity when he wrote to Timothy.

Pure Teaching

You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others. – 2 Timothy 2:2

He’s telling Timothy to ensure that the truth is not messed with – teach it to trustworthy people.

Pure Activity

And as Christ’s soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army. Follow the Lord’s rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize. – 2 Timothy 2:4-5

Paul tells Timothy to focus on doing things God’s way, doing only that which he’s directed to do. He is not to cut corners or do half-hearted work.

Pure Message

Never forget that Jesus Christ was a man born into King David’s family and that he was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach – 2 Timothy 2:8

Sometimes the simplest things escape us. The purity of the message is that Jesus was born a man – like us. He died, and was resurrected. And because he was like us, and he was resurrected, we can be too. That is Paul’s good news – the good news he wants Timothy to teach.

Pure Speech

Remind everyone of these things, and command them in God’s name to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.

Avoid godless, foolish discussions that lead to more and more ungodliness.

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. – 2 Timothy 2:14, 16, 23

It is so easy to get caught up in useless arguments. “What about people who never heard about Jesus?” Answer, “Um, good question. But you have heard about Jesus, so what are you going to do now that you know the truth?” These types of questions and arguments, unless avoided, mire us in unprofitable activity and dilute the purity of the message.

Pure Passion & Pure Hearted Companions

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. – 2 Timothy 2:22

There is a reason why Paul tied together fleeing youthful lusts, pursuing faith, love, and peace, with pure companions. It is because when we are in the company of like-minded others it is tremendously easier to do those very things described earlier.

Pure Kindness

The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth – 2 Timothy 2:24-25

Being gentle and kind to those that are in need of Jesus is a hallmark of Christian behavior. Notice that it isn’t restricted to people we get along with. Paul instructs patience and gentleness with difficult people too.

Purity on many different fronts is the marching order from Paul to Timothy and to us. It must be attainable or he wouldn’t have wasted time putting pen to parchment.

Father, these can be pretty tall orders for some of us. I know I struggle in some of these areas. Please grant me the purity I need, in the areas I need, to be an effective servant of yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pure Love. Jan

2 Timothy 1

The Manual

Years ago there was a TV show named The Greatest American Hero. The premise was that a school teacher, named Ralph Hinkley, was given a “super-power” suit by some aliens. Well, he promptly lost the manual. So, he does good, but albeit he is a tad bumbling since he doesn’t really know all that his new suit can do.

In reading about Timothy I see that he has put on his new God-suit and is doing all sorts of good. But unlike Ralph Hinkley, Timothy has the manual.

Follow the pattern of true teachings that you heard from me in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. Protect the truth that you were given; protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. – 2 Timothy 1:13-14

He has a “pattern”, a set of directions, that guide his actions. This pattern of instruction is so important, like the manual given to Ralph, that he is told to protect it. In fact he is told twice in the same sentence to protect it.

If it is that important, perhaps I need to do some more digging into what that particular “pattern of teaching” really looks like.

Father, please help me to learn and protect the pattern of true teachings that you allow to be revealed to me. May I not carelessly lose them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Time to put on the “magic jammies”. (A line from the show) Jan

1 Timothy 6

Foolish Questions

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? This question can actually be found in a slightly modified form in Richard Baxter’s tract, “Reasons of the Christian Religion” written in 1667. I think the following is my favorite answer to this foolish question.

“Nowadays only four angels can dance there. Formerly there was no limit, but OSHA passed the Angel Safety Law recently, which also requires that the pin must be inspected twice each year for structural defects.”

As Proverbs states, answer a fool according to his folly.

One of my favorite foolish questions is, “Can God create a rock so heavy that He cannot move it?”

Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. – 1 Timothy 6:20

In my experience, questions like the one about the rock are thrown out by knaves who lack a true desire for a relationship with God. They merely want to talk about him rather than with him. As Paul wisely told Timothy, avoid those types of foolish discussions. They are a waste of time.

Father, please give me the wisdom to see when I’m being baited into a foolish discussion. May I know how to either move it into a more fruitful area of conversation or end it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And for the record. God cannot make a rock so big He cannot move it. There can only be one absolute. Either God is all-powerful, or the rock is. You can’t have both.

Don’t waste time, you never get it back. Jan

1 Timothy 5

Don’t be hasty

“Haste makes waste.” I’ve heard this expression most of my life. As an adult I learned the phrase, “Measure twice, cut once.” It is referring to carpentry and directly ties in to “Haste makes waste”, since if I don’t measure something right before cutting it, I may end up with something too short, have to throw it out, and then need to purchase another piece of wood.

Earlier this year I helped my cousin purchase a large-screen TV for his home. He had picked out a vacated bookcase shelf for the new plasma or LCD unit. Unfortunately I trusted his measurements rather than checking them myself. The TV that we purchased was about 10 inches narrower than the shelf. There is a lot of wasted space on either side of the unit that could have been filled with viewable screen. Sigh… I guess it could have been worse, it could have been too large. Pity though that we were not more careful.

Last year in my men’s group, Wildmen, there were several guys eager to have a young Christian step-up to more leadership responsibility. The following principle kept rattling about in my brain and I voiced my concerns.

An elder must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being chosen so soon, and the Devil will use that pride to make him fall. – 1 Timothy 3:6

Never be in a hurry about appointing an elder. Do not participate in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. – 1 Timothy 5:22

Despite my reservations, he was put into a position of leadership. I’m not saying he was engaged in any open sin, but his immaturity exposed some wounds, offense resulted, and damage control had to be performed. All because we were hasty. It has taken some time, and things are now better. But it was a situation that should not have happened in the first place.

This does not relate to the situation above, but in looking at the second passage a bit further, it appears to me that Paul is tying the not being hasty to sin and purity. I suspect it is because if someone is put into a position of leadership too quickly, there has not been sufficient time to determine who he really is inside. What is lurking in there? And by putting him in charge of others, we make them participants in his sin if there is any.

I believe that is why Paul gave the following instruction.

Before they are appointed as deacons, they should be given other responsibilities in the church as a test of their character and ability. If they do well, then they may serve as deacons. – 1 Timothy 3:10

In our microwave, fax, text-message, cell-phone, culture, we want things immediately. Rarely are we required to wait for anything; and when we do wait we are annoyed, or outright angry at being forced to do so. However, haste does make waste. We need to be like another metaphor of Paul’s.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1

The key is endurance, persevering. This is a long-term perspective, not a short term one.

Father, may I think twice and act once. Please give me the wisdom needed to not be hasty. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Slow and steady wins the race. Jan

1 Timothy 4

Atrophy

The word atrophy is defined as:

Disuse atrophy of muscles (muscle atrophy) and bones, with loss of mass and strength, can occur after prolonged immobility, such as extended bedrest, or having a body part in a cast (living in darkness for the eye, bedridden for the legs etc.). This type of atrophy can usually be reversed with exercise unless severe. – Wikipedia.org

My son Caleb has has several casts on his ankles in the last few years due to injuries. Each time a cast comes off, there is a painful time of remobilization that has to happen. His muscles have atrophied to some degree. But what if the cast was not take off for months, or years? the muscles would atrophy to the point where they could no longer be revived. They would have wasted away to virtually nothing.

Notice how Paul directs Timothy to spend his time and energy.

Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. – 1 Timothy 4:7b-8

I wonder how many Christians who came to know Christ years ago are now spiritually wasted away to virtually nothing?

For those of us who do want to receive a reward in this life and the next, what does spiritual exercise look like? I suspect that writing this, in some small way, is part of that spiritual fitness training. But what else is there? I’m not sure, but I want to know.

Lord, thank you for giving me a mind and body that can be useful to your service. May I train both in such a way that I attain your rewards. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Join me in God’s gym. Jan

1 Timothy 3

Fulfilled Service

I noticed an interesting relationship while reading the following verses.

It is a true saying that if someone wants to be an elder, he desires an honorable responsibility. For an elder must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home and must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, peace loving, and not one who loves money. He must manage his own family well, with children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

An elder must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being chosen so soon, and the Devil will use that pride to make him fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not fall into the Devil’s trap and be disgraced.  – 1 Timothy 3:1-7

There are several areas of life being written about; they are, church, family, and world. Even though many of the attributes overlap the various spheres of influence, how the elder relates in each is a bit different. Two of them stuck out to me. They are home and church.

In the home the elder is to manage. In other words, he is in charge of discipline, directing and delegating.

However, in the area of God’s church he is to take care of.

These are two rather different job descriptions. It seems to me that there is a very good reason why he needs to manage his family well and have them respect him. If the man is fulfilled at home, then he will have the ability to care for and to serve others, to be able to give of himself selflessly, despite how church members might treat him.

Being fulfilled at home means that he will not be serving, caring for others out of emptiness. He will be giving out some of what he has received.

Father, please help me to be fulfilled at home so that I do have something to share with those outside of my home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fulfilled at  Home = Cared for Church. Jan

1 Timothy 2

Deluded

I wonder, are you among those men who seem surprised when a police officer pulls you over for speeding? After all, it isn’t like your car doesn’t have a speedometer, and it isn’t like the speed-limit isn’t posted. Perhaps since so many others break the law, you have been deceived into thinking that it is not enforced and thereby moot.

In reading the following scripture I wonder if something similar didn’t enter Adam’s mind.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. – 1 Timothy 2:14

However, Paul omits a key piece of information in this brief passage. Look at the account of this transgression in Genesis.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. – Genesis 3:6

Her husband, Adam, was with her!

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. – James 4:17

When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. – Ezekiel 33:8

Adam was right there. He knew what the right thing, the good thing, to do was. He did nothing to stop Eve from sinning.

Eve might have been deceived, but Adam was deluded into thinking that God was not going to act. Perhaps Adam even used her as the food-taster. “Hmm, she didn’t drop dead. I guess it is OK to eat the fruit after all…”

Frankly, Adam sinned first, and in greater measure. It was his responsibility to care for everything in Eden, including his wife. He stood right there, watched what was happening, and did nothing!

How often am I deluded into thinking that my actions don’t have consequences simply because they are not immediate? How about you?

Father, please forgive me for my presumptuous sins. May I live my daily life with an eye to eternity, doing what brings you glory and pleasure. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t be deluded. Jan

1 Timothy 1

Unsealed Orders

During WWII my grandmother, then in a German slave-labor camp with her family, was given sealed-orders to bring to the commander of a different camp to which she and her family were being transferred. Her maiden name was Hoffman and she was trying to convince them that she was of German descent. Non-Germans were often worked to death, whereas those of German origin were treated less harshly.

Prior to arriving at the other camp my grandmother carefully steamed the envelope open, unsealing the orders. They stated that if the commander was not fully satisfied that she and her family were German, they should be taken out and immediately executed.

In reading Paul’s letter to Timothy I noticed some unsealed-orders.

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they give you the confidence to fight well in the Lord’s battles. – 1 Timothy 1:18

Paul gave him instructions that were going to be crucial in aiding Timothy in the great war in which he was engaged. So what were those orders that inspired confidence to fight well?

  • Don’t let people waste time in spiritual arguments. – 1 Timothy 1:4
  • Cling tightly to faith in Christ. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Always keep a clear conscience. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Pray for everyone. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Plead for God’s mercy for everyone – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Give thanks. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Pray with actions, not just words. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Pray free from anger and controversy. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Be faithful. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be self-controlled – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Live well. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Cultivate a good reputation. 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be hospitable. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be a capable teacher. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be temperate (not a drunkard). – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Be gentle – peace loving. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Not motivated by money. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Manage your family well. – 1 Timothy 3:4
  • Don’t be prideful. – 1 Timothy 3:6
  • Have integrity. – 1 Timothy 3:8
  • Be responsible. – 1 Timothy 3:10
  • Receive everything with a thankful heart. – 1 Timothy 4:4-5
  • Don’t waste time in arguments. – 1 Timothy 4:7
  • Exercise both physically and even more spiritually. – 1 Timothy 4:8
  • Work hard, suffer if you must. – 1 Timothy 4:10
  • Teach others; insist they learn. – 1 Timothy 4:11
  • Your youth is not an obstacle. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Be an example in; life, love, faith, and purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Encourage others by teaching them from the scriptures. – 1 Timothy 4:13
  • Be enthusiastic in your mission. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Let others see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Check regularly to ensure you don’t stray from the truth. – 1 Timothy 4:16
  • Never speak harshly to elders. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Speak to younger men as you would your own brothers. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Treat older women as you would your mother. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Ensure that true widows’ needs are met. – 1 Timothy 5:3-7
  • Those who work hard for God should be paid for their work. – 1 Timothy 5:17-18
  • Unless there are 2 or 3 witnesses, do not listen to accusations against leaders. – 1 Timothy 5:19
  • Publicly rebuke those who sin. – 1 Timothy 5:20
  • Be impartial, no favoritism. – 1 Timothy 5:21
  • Take your time in appointing leaders, don’t be hasty. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Don’t take part in other people’s sin – stay pure. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Take your medicine. Being sick doesn’t help anyone. – 1 Timothy 5:23
  • Workers should honor their employers by working hard. – 1 Timothy 6:1-2
  • Teach these truths to others and encourage others to obey them. – 1 Timothy 6:2
  • If your material needs are being met, be content. – 1 Timothy 6:7-8
  • Don’t let money tempt you and derail you. – 1 Timothy 6:9-10
  • Run from evil things. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Pursue, run after, a godly life. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Continue to fight God’s battle. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • Hold tightly to what you’ve come to believe. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • In purity obey Christ Jesus’ commands! – 1 Timothy 6:13
  • Trust the living God. – 1 Timothy 6:17
  • Know that God richly gives you everything you need for enjoyment. – 1 Timothy 6:18
  • Tell the wealthy to use their money to do good. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
  • Guard what God has entrusted you with. – 1 Timothy 6:20
  • Avoid foolish godless foolish discussions with those who think they are wise. – 1 Timothy 6:20

Wow, what a list! And I’ve probably missed some.

Father, thank you for inspiring Paul to write this. Please help me to make this part of my life as Timothy did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And yes, my grandmother did convince the German commander. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Jan

Romans 16

Mission Possible

I used to watch the TV series Mission Impossible. I think every episode started with a tape recording device playing an assignment for the team to undertake. The last thing you would hear from the tapes was, “This tape will self-destruct in 10 seconds. Good luck Jim.” Jokingly, I used to change that to, “This tape will self-destruct, you have 10 seconds to reach minimum safe distance of 3 miles. Good luck Jim.”

I’ve been entrusted with a secret mission. One that my creator planned from the founding of the world.

God is able to make you strong, just as the Good News says. It is the message about Jesus Christ and his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. – Romans 16:25

My mission is to tell the world about Jesus. Yet some people won’t believe. In fact some people will oppose me and even lie about me and the message. Just like the self-destructing tape, these people are destined for self-destruction. I’m commanded to keep a safe distance from them.

And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things that are contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. – Romans 16:17

Unless you want to be in the blast radius when God deals with them, follow Paul’s instructions and stay away.

Father, thank you for entrusting me with the mission. May I do my part well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Good Luck, Jan

Romans 15

Just as I am

The hymn “Just as I am” is a salvation classic (if there is such a term). I would venture to guess that more people have come to Christ hearing that song play than any other in all of recorded history. It was written by a woman named Charlotte Elliot in 1835.

“An elderly man asked Charlotte Elliott if she were a Christian; she felt insulted, and told him to mind his own affairs. But after the man left, she could not get the question off her mind, and she went back to ask the man how to find Christ. He told her to come just as she was. She did, and wrote the beautiful song, “Just As I Am.” – By B. A. Scherr”

I wonder if Charlotte Elliot had any idea of how far her song would go when she wrote it ?

The title of that song came to me as I was reading the following verse from Paul.

So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified. – Romans 15:7

What kind of person was I at the point Christ accepted me? What kind of person were you? Did you have your life cleaned up, no issues, no problems, no hangups, no idiosyncracies, no prejudices, no sins, no faults?

Or were you like me, a person deserving of hell?

If we’re honest, we all were. Yet Christ accepted us.

Paul very clearly says in the verse above, that just as Christ accepted me, I’m to accept others. That means before they are clean, whole, and holy I am to accept them. Just as they are. And when I do, I bring glory to God. Why? Because I’m behaving like his son; I look like his son and thereby reveal God’s glory.

Father, may I be more like Jesus every day. Please give me that desire deep within that cannot be contained. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Without one plea… Jan

Romans 14

I’m not God

It is so easy to fall into the trap of judging or condemning someone else. They may not be doing work the way that I think it should be done. They might simply be sitting around… Paul had some rather blunt words for people who are quick to judge.

Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should. – Romans 14:4

Although Paul is specifically speaking about eating certain types of foods, and observing or celebrating certain days, the principle holds for nearly everything in life. To emphasize the fact, he reiterated the point one more time.

So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say,

‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow to me
and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.’

Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God. So don’t condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian’s path.  – Romans 14:10-13

Since I’m not God, I have no right to decide how one of his servants is doing as long as they are not in outright sin. However, if I am entrusted with leadership over someone, then delgated authority comes into play and I am commanded to exercise the authority invested in me by Christ.

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways. – 1 Corinthians 5:12

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict of sin. It is our job to ensure that the sin is not contaminating the rest of the body of believers.

Father, may I know when to shut-up and when to speak; when to act and when to watch. Please give me wisdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m just me. Jan

Romans 13

Love

I know a man who recently posted the following on his web blog. It was about the subject of love.

“What is the TEST” to see if they are really Christians…? Or Not…? Is it ‘Love’… or is it… “Truth?”

Is it “Love”… or is it… “Belief in the Total Authority of the Word of God… that Identifies a “Real Christian”… a believer in “Christ Jesus”…?  I believe that the Teaching of the Word of God… identifies that one… by their… “Validity of the Authority of The Word of God!”

Yes, the strange capitalization and punctuation are his; I did not embellish or alter anything. He is a rather unusual man who, whether he knows it or not, revealed the true problem with his belief system in the above sentences. He does not understand love, nor does he truly intimately know the author of love. If he did, his relationship would not be based on works of law, but on works of love. Paul wrote about works of love in Romans 13. In fact he called it our debt.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting—and any other commandment—are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. – Romans 13:8-10

Did you catch that last statement? Love satisfies all of God’s requirements. Period.

Jesus said something very similar.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22:38-40

I used the King James Version because I love the symbolism of the word “hang”. Loving God, and Loving People are like two nails, or pegs which up hold the entirety of the law on a shelf or dangling from a rope. If you pull a nail or peg out, the shelf comes crashing down. Now, notice that it isn’t just some ephemeral love. It is specific. Jesus said to love God with all we’ve got, heart, soul, and mind. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We don’t serve God out of duty or a compulsion to fulfill the obligations of the law. No, we serve out of love for him. Likewise, if I love someone in the same way I love myself, I do not want that person harmed. I want to see good for them, which includes knowing Christ as their savior. By doing this, I’m upholding all of the law in the process.

Father, may I show love, your love, to everyone. Please give me the grace and courage to do so. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, and love some more. Jan

Romans 12

Value by Faith

There is a famous Bible quote about the subject of faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

Sort of cryptic isn’t it?

In a nutshell, it says that faith is the tangible part of the expected, what you don’t have yet. It is the thing that you can sort-of touch, the thing that you have some control over.

In reading today I noticed that we are to measure our value by our faith.

As God’s messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. – Romans 12:3

Hmm, I find that a strange statement… measure my value… I was under the impression that we are all equally valuable to God. After all, Jesus died for me. That means that God placed the highest value on me he could when he allowed his son to be sacrificed in my stead. So I guess that means that this passage in Romans is referring to something other than personal worth. But what?

I think the section that follows it brings that to light. Notice the operative words that I’m italicizing below.

We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. – Romans 5b-8

Everything that follows (all the way through the end of the chapter) is in the context of others.

How is your faith lived out? What is your value? How do you know how much faith you have?

It is in the context of how others benefit from it.

Prophecy is for the benefit of others. Teaching is for the benefit of others. Sharing means others benefit. Leadership is helping others get to where God wants them. And the list goes on; honor others, be helpful, be hospitable, bless, share in joy and sorrow, live in peace, do good.

Why?

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. – Romans 12:11

Because when we do this we are actually serving the Lord.

Father, may I live in such a way as to be valuable. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Faithful one, are you valuable to others? Jan

Romans 11

Little Flowers

Today as I was reading I was reminded of the book, Little Flowers by St. Francis of Assisi. In it is the following account of a trip he took with a fellow friar.

CHAPTER VIII
HOW ST FRANCIS, WALKING ONE DAY WITH BROTHER LEO, EXPLAINED TO HIM WHAT THINGS ARE PERFECT JOY

One day in winter, as St Francis was going with Brother Leo from Perugia to St Mary of the Angels, and was suffering greatly from the cold, he called to Brother Leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him:

“Brother Leo, if it were to please God that the Friars Minor should give, in all lands, a great example of holiness and edification, write down, and note carefully, that this would not be perfect joy.”

A little further on, St Francis called to him a second time: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor were to make the lame to walk, if they should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if they should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor knew all languages; if they were versed in all science; if they could explain all Scripture; if they had the gift of prophecy, and could reveal, not only all future things, but likewise the secrets of all consciences and all souls, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

After proceeding a few steps farther, he cried out again with a loud voice: “O Brother Leo, thou little lamb of God! if the Friars Minor could speak with the tongues of angels; if they could explain the course of the stars; if they knew the virtues of all plants; if all the treasures of the earth were revealed to them; if they were acquainted with the various qualities of all birds, of all fish, of all animals, of men, of trees, of stones, of roots, and of waters – write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor had the gift of preaching so as to convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Now when this manner of discourse had lasted for the space of two miles, Brother Leo wondered much within himself; and, questioning the saint, he said: “Father, I pray thee teach me wherein is perfect joy.”

St Francis answered: “If, when we shall arrive at St Mary of the Angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, ‘We are two of the brethren’, he should answer angrily, ‘What ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone I say’; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall – then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy.

And if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, ‘Begone, miserable robbers! to to the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!’ – and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, O Brother Leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy. And if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, ‘These are but importunate rascals, I will deal with them as they deserve’; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick – if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for him, write, O Brother Leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy.

And now, brother, listen to the conclusion. Above all the graces and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to his friends, is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love for Christ, all suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt; for in all other gifts of God we cannot glory, seeing they proceed not from ourselves but from God, according to the words of the Apostle, ‘What hast thou that thou hast not received from God? and if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?’ But in the cross of tribulation and affliction we may glory, because, as the Apostle says again, ‘I will not glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.”

I was reminded once again that there is nothing that we can give to God to compare with what he has given us.

For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen. – Romans 11:34-36

The only thing we have that we can give God, that has any worth whatsoever, is how we respond to circumstances of this life. Do we bring him glory through it or not?

Father, may I bring you glory in whatever comes my way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Practice Perfect Joy. Jan

Romans 10

Been there, Done that

Have you ever done something in a way where you are convinced, even adamant, that your way is the right way, only to find out later that you were wrong? Dead wrong?

The Apostle Paul was just such a man. He was raised to be a leader among men, taught by the best teachers. He knew the Law and the Prophets better than most. When Christianity appeared on the scene he was convinced that it was perversion of all that he knew and held to be true. Only when confronted by Christ Jesus himself on the road to Damascus did he recognize the depth and breath of his error. His enthusiasm and zeal for what he thought was right had actually been working against the very thing he’d been working for, hoping for, and longing for his entire life. So, when Paul penned his letter to the Roman Christians, he knew that he’d been there, done that.

I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Instead, they are clinging to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. They won’t go along with God’s way. – Romans 10:2-3

Eventually, as we know, Paul did go along with God’s way. He listened to the Good News.

Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good news—the Good News about Christ. – Romans 10:17

God can use anything from our past to help someone else, even ourselves. But we need to let him.

Lord, thank you that Paul did listen. Help me to look for ways to encourage others with the lessons that you’ve taught me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t go there, don’t do that, Jan

Romans 9

My Purpose

I used to joke with people that the purpose of my life was to serve as a warning to others. The statement comes from a de-motivational poster.

However, today I read this from the Apostle Paul.

For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you, and so that my fame might spread throughout the earth.” – Romans 9:17

Um, kinda sounds like the poster. The purpose of Pharaoh’s life was to serve as a warning to others.

But imagine knowing your purpose, knowing exactly what you were built to do and then following that path unwaveringly. Appealing isn’t it?

My family and I have been watching a SciFi channel program on DVD, StarGate Atlantis. In a recent episode, Dr. Rodney McKay created an artificial human using nano-technology – a Replicator. This machine’s sole purpose for existing was to serve as a weapon against an enemy comprised of other sentient nano-technology Replicators. In the fulfillment of her purpose she would be destroyed.  As they are approaching the time and place where she would deploy a very interesting exchange of dialog occurs.  “Fran” is the name Dr. McKay gave her – Friendly Replicator ANdroid.

(Fran the Replicator is gazing out of the window as hyperspace rushes past. It turns and looks at Rodney as he types on a computer tablet.)
FRAN
: This is quite exciting, isn’t it?
(Rodney looks up at it awkwardly.)
McKAY: It’s a bit nerve-wracking, yeah.
FRAN: I quite look forward to it.
McKAY: You do?
FRAN: One always wishes to fulfill one’s purpose.
(Behind Rodney, Radek is frowning at Fran in surprise.)
McKAY: … Right. And you’re fine with all this?
FRAN: Why would I not be? It’s my reason for being.
McKAY: Well, I know. It’s just that you’re … you’re gonna cease to be.
FRAN: Yes.
McKAY: Well, I just … I just imagined you’d rather keep being than, uh … uh, than not.
FRAN: Certainly you’re not worried for me, are you, Doctor?
McKAY: No, no, that would be silly.
FRAN (smiling at him): Yes, it would.

One always wishes to fulfill one’s purpose… Am I doing that? Or do I complain or try to avoid the things I feel, or even know, that my creator has ordained for me to do? Wouldn’t that be silly?

Who are you, a mere human being, to criticize God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? God has every right to exercise his judgment and his power, but he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgment and are fit only for destruction. He also has the right to pour out the riches of his glory upon those he prepared to be the objects of his mercy—even upon us, whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles. – Romans 9:20b-24

God has a purpose for each of us. If there is a conviction of sin in you, if you feel the weight of wrong when you do it, that means that God has given you the gift of being able to receive his mercy. Otherwise he would not torment you with guilt that cannot be assuaged. And if you know you are not right with God there is always hope. I know, I’ve read ahead to the next chapter.

For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. For “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:9-13

The word anyone means just that, anyone. If you believe (not an intellectual exercise, but one of obedience too) then you will be saved.

Father, thank you for making me. May I fulfill my purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I quite look forward to it… Jan

Romans 8

Not an absence of war

I noticed something today while reading in the book of Romans that I’d not seen before.

If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. – Romans 8:6

The word peace jumped out at me. It is the greek word “Eirene” it means; peace, quietness, rest, and an additional thing, one.

What I was struck by was the difference I’ve seen in people who truly are controled by the Holy Spirit and those who are not. Those who are controled by the Spirit not only have peace, they are peace. They bring it to wherever they go. That peace is tangible, they exude a quietness and gentleness that brings a true oneness to those of like mind – those controled by the Spirit.

Lord, may I exude peace. Please give me the grace to truly allow the Holy Spirit to control my mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be peace, Jan