The poem in 11-13 might have been a song. It is full of hope and promise. I died with Jesus who was crucified. I will live again in paradise forever and ever.
I have not lost faith and endured much. I will reign with him.
Jesus will never disown me. Even if I falter, worry, and doubt he will remain faithful to me. I am in Christ. Christ is in me. I am a part of him. He is a part of me. He will never leave me nor forsake me.
All these are guarantees. When hard times come it does not mean that Jesus gave up on me nor forsaken me. Paul was in chains in a dark damp prison. He professed these truths.
The Word of God is life because Jesus speaks and the Spirit inspires, conveying what is in the Father’s heart. Today the Word of God is “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” and “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (1,3) Jesus is my source of strength
Being human is to have times of strength and happiness, and to have times of weakness and sadness. Being human is being courageous and fearful. When weak, sad, and fearful Jesus enables me to endure hardship and give me hope for the future in this world.
Three analogies are presented to help understand endurance; a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. All three must endure hard labor if they are to win the battle, win the prize, and receive a crop.
A soldier respects his commanding officer. He wants his commanding officer to be happy with him. He accepts the drills given by his commanding officer even when the drills push him to his physical, mental, and hearts limit. He cares for nothing except to please his commanding officer. So I am to be with my commander Jesus. A commander is a source of encouragement, an example, a model to follow, and a source of strength.
An athlete does not break the rules. The rules of life are the Words and will of God. The principle of the cross of Christ is the example.
Paul was is a secluded dark damp prison (16,17). He had no income nor any remaining reserve cash to supply his needs. Many who he considered friends and disciples were ashamed of him, did not look for him, nor help him (15). He was lonely and in desire need.
One man, Onesiphorus kept searching Rome till he found Paul (17). He showed him mercy. He supplied his needs. He was not ashamed of Paul. Onesiphorus risked his life and income to help Paul. Paul prayed that the Lord may show Onesiphorus mercy.
Paul was concerned for Timothy at this time. I can imagine that when Onesiphorus finally found Paul questions were asked about friends. After the relief and shared love, Paul asked how his friends were doing in the midst of new persecution. Onesiphorus shared that many stopped attending services and some abandoned the faith. Others were ashamed of Paul and afraid of Nero’s nationwide persecution against Christians. So Paul instructed Timothy to remember to teach what he heard Paul teach with faith and love (13).
Some parallels are found today. In much of the world, Christians have been persecuted, harassed, robbed, jailed, and murdered. Some stopped going to services because they are afraid of becoming sick of a virus. They will go shopping, work, and school. But they stopped going to church. Fear has separated us as water separates rocks and leaves.
During this time of fear and hostilities, I need to apply Jesus and the apostle’s teachings in my life. I need to be like Onesiphorus and assist others in need, those who live by and teach the truth of Jesus. I will not let fear keep me from fellowship with believers in Christ.
God saves through Jesus (9). What does he save us from? Death and punishment for transgressions (10). Why does he do this? Not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace (9).
God calls us to a holy (separated and pure) life, a holy calling (9). What is the holy calling (piety)? Piety is a translation of a Hebrew expression and several Greek terms meaning “the fear or reverence of the Lord” (Job 4:6, 15:4, 22:4, Acts 3:12, Heb. 3:1, 5:7). 1 Tim 5:4 specifically equates this to conduct with our physical and spiritual family.
Paul first and foremost in this letter before his death was to encourage Timothy, his beloved friend and plebe to continue the life to which God called him in Christ Jesus. A life of faith, holy calling, and grace are not for the faint of heart; yet perfect for the faint of heart because Jesus is able to sustain and enable us to thrive. “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (12). The day is the day of resurrection into eternal life without fear and doubt, with love ever-increasing love, peace, and perfect company and place.
Paul told Timothy that he should not be ashamed to testify about the Lord Jesus (8). Jesus said that anyone who was ashamed of him in this age would be ashamed of them before his Father when standing before him on the Bema Seat.
Paul had lived his life since he meet Jesus telling others of the grace of Jesus. This often resulted in him being ridiculed, harassed, beaten, and even jailed. He was in a Roman jail when he wrote Timothy. Paul told Timothy to not be ashamed of him even though he was in jail for preaching the gospel (8).
Timothy was concerned about his future. He was holding back on the call that was given him. He didn’t want to suffer as Paul was. He was afraid and concerned.
Indeed believers in Jesus will suffer (8). God’s will supply power to those who suffer for Jesus’ namesake (8). The life of full obedience isn’t always easy or pretty. That is why many who come to accept Jesus as Savior eventually turn their back on him. They give up on him. They doubt his love.
Don’t give up. Don’t be ashamed of Jesus. Humbly ask God for power to endure everything that will happen today. Fill me with the overwhelming power, joy, and love so that I may be a good witness to others today.
All have a calling, that is a place. Our place includes family and friends, a location to dwell, and work to occupy time and be productive. So is the case for Paul and Timothy.
Paul had his dear proteges Timothy, Titus, and other believers as family and friends. He spent time at various locations during his life. Now, during the writing of this letter in 67 AD, Paul was in a Roman prison. His occupation was an apostle of Christ Jesus (1).
Timothy had his mentor Paul, his mother Eunice, his grandmother Lois, and those in the Ephesus congregation he served as pastor (5).
I have often heard the cliche “burned out” when referring to someone’s will and strength to continue occupation and job wondering where the term came from. Here Paul tells Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (6). Perhaps that is where the term “burned out” comes from. If I don’t fan into flame the gift of God the will, excitement, and strength could burn out.
What is the gift of God Paul was referring to? The laying on of hands in verse 6 is done in a congregation to commission someone before they take on a mission and occupation. Roman Catholics refer to this as the sacrament of confirmation. Other denominations simply refer to it as the laying on of hands. This symbolizes God sending his Holy Spirit into someone, often for a specific mission or call. Paul when writing of the gift of God given to Timothy was referring to the gift given during the laying on of hands.
The Holy Spirit gives all his people a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline (sound mind, good judgment) (7). However, I need to continually fan it into flame or these gifts could burn out.
The rich in this world are addressed directly in the Bible. Jesus has advice and commands for them. These verses address the wealthy. The rich are those who have great abundance; more money and assets than over half of their peers, family, and neighbors.
Having wealth changes almost everyone. Not only does their way of living change, but also their thinking and attitude. Wealth easily puffs up pride and arrogance. Wealth can believe that self did it thus ignoring the truth that God provides the means, way, and ability to obtain money and assets (17).
Having wealth and assets is not a sin. Many righteous and ethical means exist for obtaining and maintaining wealth. God provides each person with daily needs; friends, food, clothing, and shelter for enjoyment. Some are given the privilege to obtain wealth (17).
I am not rich by middle-class American standards. I am wealthy by most world standards. I am not rich when compared to most friends, family, and peers. Still, acquaintances would say that I have more income than they. Every day I see and am near those who do not have much.
Recently, some have been walking up to me asking for financial help and/or a ride somewhere. Two days ago I was at a gas station where a man walked up to me. With many words, he wanted a ride and some cash. He saw me as rich compared to himself. Holding back would have been a sin. I am to be generous and willing to share (18) even though I have no savings and have some debt.
The Spirit moved my conscience to reflect upon my heart attitude when he called me over. I had to quench resentment for having to change my plans to give this man a short ride and almost empty by billfold of cash. Attitude is what God looks at. How I do good is just as important as the act.
Both Jesus and verse 19 claim the truth that doing good towards others lays up treasure in heaven for the age to come. I wrote more of this and the age to come in the manuscript “The Believer’s Future – Hope that Inspires.”
I awoke this morning under the cloud of depression, with concerns about money and the future. I think about God’s promise and wonder how much longer till he fulfills it. I tell myself that I have much to be thankful for and speak postcard prayers. Still, the feeling persists as I clean myself in preparation for the day.
I do not lose hope in God and his love for me. I do not let depression stun me into idleness, nor allow it to turn into anger. I read his word. Today’s passage is an encouragement, direction, and a prescription to this morning’s mood. God wants me to fight the good fight of the faith (12).
I read these verses several times till it cleanses my mood. Morning depression is like soil and oil on the skin. Soap and water can clean it off, but only after several applications.
God directs me to pursue what he approves of; right actions and thoughts, a godly life, faith in him, love, endurance (patience), and gentleness (11). God tells me that I can pursue endurance if I so choose. Even when the day starts with a gloomy mood I can pursue patience in his timing.
This morning, when I could not move out of the shadow over me, God sustained me and in mercy removed the cloud in my mind. He gave me life (13). He gave me Christ Jesus’ good confession (13). God will bring about all in his own time, Jesus’ coming and fulfilling his promise (14,15). Until then he let one small ray leave the unapproachable light around him through my cloud, into my shadow, and into me (16).
Frankly, I do not know of someone who does not love money. Jesus said, “You cannot love both God and money.” Here it says, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (10) “Love of money” in the original Greek is one word. It is not mistranslated.
Money is what is obtained from labor and investment. Of course, there are also illegal and unethical ways to obey money. Money in theory is then exchanged for stuff. The reason why people love money is that we want more and better stuff. Obtaining stuff with no effort or frustration is desirable to everyone in one degree or another.
Why is the desire for more so powerful in my heart and mind? It doesn’t need to be. Certainly, I can grow content with enough food, clothing, and shelter.
I recently watched a documentary about a young man, an expert free base mountain climber. He did not live to acquire stuff. He lived to climb mountains and enjoy nature. I watched another documentary about a woman who lived out of her van. She knew others who did the same. They too were happy and content. Seven years back I traveled to the seventh poorest nation in the world. I meet people there who were happy and content.
I also recently watched a documentary about a once-famous and successful TV evangelist and his wife. They lived verses 3 through 5. Mostly, they loved money. They fell into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires (9). They were plunged into ruin and destruction. He is in jail for misappropriation of church funds. She lives in disgrace and humiliation.
How can I be content with enough food, clothing, and shelter? Contentment is a state of mind and a decision of faith. Contentment is found in godliness. Contentment is found in a loving personal relationship with Jesus. Contentment is found in hope and faith in Christ. Contentment involves gratitude towards God. This is what I remind of myself of when tempted.
Slavery is illegal practically everywhere in the world today. Yet, there are more slaves and human trafficking now than in all of recorded history. A slaver is one who takes away someone’s God-given freedom and rights for selfish gain. A slave is someone whose God-given freedom and rights have been taken away and is forced to exist for another’s benefit.
Different degrees of slavery exist; that is some slavers take away all freedoms, while other slavers allow their slaves to have some freedom. Different degrees of harshness in slavery exists; that is some slavers mentally and physically abuse their slaves, while other slavers do not. Indentured servitude practiced more so in the past than today is a form of slavery. Some kings in centuries past were so selfish and cruel that they were in fact slavers.
Scholars estimate about 10% (but possibly up to 20%) of the Roman empire’s population were enslaved. This would mean, for an estimated Roman empire population of 50 million (in the first century AD) between five and ten million were enslaved.
What can a person do when someone has taken away their freedom and rights, whether in part or all? We should remember that we bear God’s name for we are children of God (1). Children of God will do nothing to cause our Father’s name to be slandered (1).
Jesus taught that his followers, “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Mat. 5:39-42)
Jesus’ socially radical teaching includes that I should show respect to someone who takes away any or all of my rights and freedom (1). Also, rather than resent someone who claims to be a believer in Jesus and yet takes away any of my rights or freedom, I am to show them even more respect than if they were not a confessed Christian (2).
Moral and ethical conduct should always be considered when a congregation is considering someone for a particular position of authority (21,22,24,25). However, this does not mean that the reason I am to conduct my life in an honorable and respectable way is to impress people and aspire to places of leadership. I do what is best and righteous because it is best for others and me.
Concentrating efforts and working for the betterment of others, especially the body of Christ deserves recognition with pay and respect (17,18). Some of the tithings of the congregation should be used to support the pastor and staff. However, I believe that a pastor should be paid no more than the mean salary of those they serve.
During my life, I have heard of and seen some pastors and staff misuse church funds and people. This is more so true in businesses and government these days than in churches. However, more damage is done to people and society when someone in a church misuses the congregation.
I decided a long time ago to give the benefit of the doubt to a church leader when I see or hear that they became become selfish unless several confirm the sin (19). Then they should be rebuked publically (20) for the sin is against the public.
A congregation as a whole should help those in need. There are always more people to help than there are volunteers to help. So guidelines need to be set so that those who really need can be helped.
Paul help Timothy set guideless on helping widows in Ephesus where Timothy was pastor (9,10,16). The Ephesus congregation must have had many widows and not enough resources to help them all. When women who were eligible were apparently put on the list to get the assistance they made a pledge and were required to keep it (12).
Verses 11 thru 15 should be of help to women whose husband has died, especially younger women. Everyone has sensual desires, over 60 the sensual desires either fade or are better controlled.
Verses 11-15 make me think about what I do in my spare time. Some things can lead me to do things that are not what God wants for me. Others are as Jesus taught. Now that I am older and my children are adults I still can find God wants for me in new ways.
Widows were especially vulnerable in ancient Mediterranean society. Many still are today. Back then as now most depended on their husband’s income. Most families lived on a meager income if they were not slaves. Most men were slaves or soldiers in Roman society. Retirement plans like pensions and 401ks did not exist. Only a few families could save up extra income for some help for the future.
Jesus taught us to not only help others but become sacrificial in helping others. Children are to help their parents especially when they are unable to maintain a good income in later years (4). Sons are to especially care for their aged mothers (8).
Learning faith is only done when we can do nothing. When all choices vanish like steam leaving a boiling pot of water, so an elder with no income can only pray, desperately asking God for help (5,6). I don’t like being in that situation. I have been more than once. I cannot say that I want to be in that place again.
Respect is a good word for these two verses. Respect older men. Respect younger men. Respect older women. Respect younger women. Respect others. Paul puts respect for others in terms of how we treate family. However, these days families are so broken that we don’t know how to treat a father, mother, brother, and sister.
I have heard others say (and thought myself too), “Respect is earned.” Is it? If I believe it is then I need to answer some questions. Is respect a gift to give someone? Does someone need to act a certain way to get my respect? Isn’t believing that respect is earned making me a judge on who is worthy of my respect? It is. Then isn’t it a statement of pride?
Don’t I believe that all those who encounter me owe me respect? And if someone does not “pay me respect” am I offended? I think that most people deep down desire and need others’ respect.
What happens to me when someone treats me with proper respect? What happens to me when someone disrespects me?
Why do I punish someone for behavior or attitude that I disapprove of by showing them either disrespect or no respect at all? Isn’t that what I am doing by not treating others with respect, punishing them?
I think my problem with answering some of these questions revolves around the fact that I don’t understand the dynamics of respect. What really is respect? Is it a feeling or the way I interact with others? It is both. Respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements, and respect is regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. Sometimes I find that I have to practice one without truly having the other.
Paul encourages his young friend, fellow pastor, and brother in Christ to teach the truth and set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity (11, 12). Setting an example is not as easy as it appears. Setting a good example does not include letting others control my words, actions, and life. I am not to allow others to take advantage of me and lead me away from the life of godliness (8). Setting an example also does not mean that I lord over and judge others. Nor is godliness a badge to wear was if to boast and show off. Setting an example means that I am to know the gift and abilities God gave me and exercise them (14, 15). Living by faith in love may seem fruitless, ineffective, and sometimes counter to helping others know Christ. It is not. Paul did not know all the troubles he went through to help young believers like Timothy would also benefit those who read this letter. So to I can be assured that God will take my small actions to save myself and others (16).
Someone recently ask me, “What do you think about a statement I read, ‘Once there is a conflict of will, what you want in life, and what God wants for you, life becomes a struggle,.” This statement has some truth, yet it is misleading. Consider the meaning of “conflict of will.” and “life becomes a struggle”. Do you believe that you are in conflict with God’s will for you? What do you want? How do I know what God want specifically for me? Jesus said just before his arrest and after he told them that they would scatter, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So trouble and struggles will come in our life whether we are resisting God are not. However, the inward life – peace of mind and heart, contentment, happiness, and satisfaction is outstanding if we stay in Christ and thus his will. For example, look at Jesus. On the night he was betrayed he prayed just before he was arrested. He was in turmoil as he prayed. He was struggling to accept his Father’s will, the cross. He was is so much termoil that his sweat was like drops of blood. Yet, he eventually prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.” From then on his external circumstances were one new hardship after another. Yet he had amazing peace, stability, and control. When the guards came to arrest him, He said, “I am he” and they drew back and fell to the ground at his word. He truly had inner peace and power. God has a purpose for you and me for sure. Prayer and meditation is very important in determining his will and meassages. But be sure, “You will have trouble in this world” whether you are in conflict with that will or are in full submission.
Searing skin with a hot iron is done for several reasons. A wound is cauterized to stop bleeding. A captured soldier or prisoner is sometime marked by burning skin. Some who is mentally unstable have been known to mark their skin with heat. The way skin is cauterized is not meant here. The effects of cauterized skin are rigidity, hardness, and dead to sensitivity. Even if hit nothing is felt. These are the result of a conscience that has constantly proclaimed without personal application. How many people are homes to deceiving spirits? How many popular teachers are moth pieces of demons today? These people may be religious and appear pious. Yet they have lied so much that they feel nothing. They do not practice love, faith, nor hope. I need to speak truth and live as Jesus taught, not in rituals and religious rites of passage. Rather, I can do as Jesus and the apostles taught.
Each person and every person who believes in Jesus is the church (congregation/assembly) of the living God (15). God lives in me. I am the house of God. I am a temple where God resides. I am in the family of God and the Father of our family is in me.
No matter where I go or what I do, God is here within me. He knows my inner thoughts and motives. He experiences what I experience. He lives and I live because he lives in me. He is in a continuous mode of assessing and addressing my character. No wonder Paul wrote, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great.” (16)
I like reading and watching mysteries and detective shows. If there is a puzzle to be solved I will enjoy finding the solution. The mystery of godliness, that which gives me reverence for God is one of the greatest mysteries. It is dynamic and relevant when and if I submit to my Father’s work in my character and being.
The short poem at the end was most likely a ditty sung by the early congregation. When God moved Paul to write about the mystery of godliness he sang a song. I want to sing these words among the believers some Sunday. Would someone put these to a melody?
God became flesh. Amazing. He is called Jesus and lives among us. Amazing. The Spirit declared him righteous and approved. Amazing. All creation sees him including the angels in the flesh. Amazing. His name and deed are known around the world. Amazing. Some from every tongue, tribe, people group, and nation believes in Jesus. Amazing. Jesus ascended to heaven in glory. Amazing.
Deacon is an old English word literally meaning servant. Most congregations and denominations have people in the position of deacon and deaconess whether it is an official office or meanly one in action only. Those who serve in a congregation should conduct themselves as described here.
Yesterday’s passage consisted of the position of bishop (overseer). Elder is also a position within some congregations and denominations (1 Ti 5:19, Tit 1:6, 1 Pe 5:1, 2 Jn 1:1, 3 Jn 1:1) All 3 positions have similar personal, social, and family requirements. A congregation will do well to seek people to fill such positions.
A congregation’s pastor (shepherd) needs not only helpers but accountability and checks and balances. Any leader including pastors is prone to the temptation of overloading those who are supposed to be under their care. I’ve seen it all too many times.
A congregation’s pastor (shepherd) needs not only helpers but accountability and checks and balances. Any leader including pastors is prone to the temptation of overloading those who are supposed to be under their care. I’ve seen it all too many times.
Right now more so than any time in recent decades many congregations and denominations are dwindling to such low numbers that they are dissolving. At the same time, new congregations and denominations are quickly growing.
The reason for the switch is that pastors, elders, bishops, and deacons of the former congregations confused culture with Christianity. They were only willing to bend to their will and needs, and not the needs of others. They got drunk on the wine of power and influence. They put down and ridiculed the very people that Jesus told us to help. To this day they sit in empty church services believing that they are right and/or unable to accept that they were wrong.
Bishop is an old English word meaning overseer, church official, and leader. The business equivalent is middle management. Just as companies, organizations, and governments have people responsible for overseeing the daily, weekly, and annual functions of a corporation, so congregations and denominations have people responsible for such things. Some responsibilities include managing people, finances, operations, press, and production.
Unlike the secular world, the body of Christ must first and foremost consider a person’s qualification for such an important position. The consideration is based on their character and social and spiritual health (2-4). A congregation’s decision is not the same as judging a person. Judging implies punishment. Assessing someone for the position of a bishop is determining in order to help and improve the health of the body of Christ. (Some bishops may consider it punishment; this meant in humor.)
Verses 6 and 7 bring up an easily overlooked fact, an overseer may be a good candidate at first, but can easily become subject to the same judgment as of the devil. And like the devil often pastors and congregations find it hard to remove the devil’s bishop from positions of importance not because they can’t, but because selfish reasons and lack of faith make it hard for them to let go of the deceptive influence. Indeed, I have seen and experienced many birds in the mustard plant.
Paul continues to give pastoral instructions to his young friend Timothy, who he considers a son in the Lord and a fellow pastor.
Some consider the instructions in these verses cultural, dependant on a woman’s education and experience, only to be applied in church functions, and subject to society’s customs. I tend to agree for they start with “I” meaning they are from Paul. Directions like these are meant not to be forced onto people and society, but for each person to decide how and when to apply them.
While living in Pennsylvania around 10 years ago I knew a woman who had taught the Bible in her church for many years. She handled the word of God well. Many years ago when I was a young believer in Jesus I knew another woman who was an oversee missionary for many years. She also taught the Bible to anyone who was willing to listen. She too handled the word of God well.
As for attire, it is wise to dress pleasant and modest when in congregational settings. Doing otherwise seems to upset some women more than men.
Prayer seems like a simple subject to think about. After thinking about it for a while I realize that it is not. As many people that are alive and breathing, have ever walked the earth, or will ever exist must have their own thoughts and beliefs about praying.
Prayer is a rapport with God. Some may replace God there with “an object of worship.” Prayer is personal.
I accept the truth that Jesus is God’s appointed mediator between him and me (5). Jesus is with me when I talk to and with God. Jesus understands what it is to be me, a human male making a journey through life that has its good times and its hard times. The Spirit searches my heart, feeling with me.
My attitude during prayer has varied greatly when I have prayed through the years. It all depended on my life circumstances and my reaction to them. There is nothing to hide, or can be hidden from God. So I come to him in the spirit I am in, just like I see David did in the Pslams.
My attitude towards others affects my prayer. When am angry with someone, that anger comes out in my requests. If I have had a dispute with someone the emotions, and thoughts that accompany the argument swirl around my head like the fake snow in a snow globe. They disrupt my personal time with God, my maker. Jesus and Paul taught it is best to go to my brother and/or sister and peacefully settle the matter before attempting to pray (8, Mark 6:5-15, Luke 11:1-13).
Paul urges for prayer for every one (1). He especially points out to pray for kings and all those in authority (2). Understanding all that he went through due to orders from selfish, personally ambitious, and cruel rulers I can understand why Paul wanted all to pray for people in authority. People in authority have the power to allow others to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness, or they can take that away (2).
I think back on my life to those in positions of authority who were cruel, some even made evil decisions. They would not care for me or others. Some purposely set out to harm.
The first impulse is to take revenge upon such a person and to make them endure the same pain that they inflicted upon others. The sinful nature wants to make them pay for what they did. Some popular TV series like The Handmade’s Tale embrace this belief.
Jesus taught that he wants his followers to turn the other cheek when someone sticks the first. I believe the phrase “turn the other cheek” has lost its meaning. It means when someone hits me, rather than strike back I am to allow them to hit me again.
When Jesus hung on the cross the religious authorities came and bragged about their accomplishment. They publically declared their righteousness so all could hear, “If he is the son of God let him come down and save himself.” “He could save others, but he cannot save himself.” Jesus could have, but he purposely kept to his mission to bring glory to God and save me. Then he prayed for them, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus took no revenge. He prayed for those in authority.
God has unlimited patience (16). Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. He is long-suffering. God keeps his cool. He doesn’t have a temper. Christ Jesus has extraordinary patience.
I remember the toddler years. Any parent of toddlers often meets their patience end. My children are extremely intelligent. Perhaps it is my circumstance that gives me the bias conclusion that intelligent toddlers can especially test their parent’s patience. Making rules for intelligent toddlers and expecting them not to defy them every once in a while is like expecting a spring without flowers and weeds.
Considering my limitations of patience helps me admire and appreciate God’s unlimited patience. I consider my past actions and attitudes and my Lord’s response, his ever-presence when I turn to him, his calming peace, and the warmth of my soul due to his gentle touch – yes, I have seen and still experience God’s unlimited patience.
Considering God’s response to Paul’s pre-Christ life as a blasphemer, a persecutor of the church, and a violent man beating and killing God’s chosen I learn of God’s long-suffering (13,16). So it is not hard for me to say and believe that there is always hope as long as I breathe to enter God’s limitless grace and mercy no matter who I am, nor how dark my soul may become, nor how many times I go to him for forgiveness.
God’s personal and real grace is astounding! Consider what I did before God’s grace purified my spirit, life, and personality.
I cursed God in mind, heart, word, and action. Still, God continued to knock on my heart and ask, “May I come in?”
I persecuted Jesus, God’s one and only Son in my mind, heart, word, and action (13). Jesus’ body is his people. When I encountered his body I was so repulsed that my thoughts were repulsed and I shoved them away with attitude. Still, the Holy Spirit continued to knock on my heart and ask, “May I come in and heal you?”
I was a violent, injurious, and arrogant man. Still, Jesus stood behind my heart’s door treating me with mercy because I acted ignorantly in my unbelief (13).
Through gentle kindness and passionate love, he brought me to faith in the Father, Son, and Spirit (14). God’s personal and real grace towards me is astounding. He is the rainbow after a violent storm.
A strong natural impulse we humans have is to resist God’s Spirit who leads us to all things good. By resisting God’s good and pleasing ways we make decisions that become poor, destructive and lead to death. The more we resist God’s Spirit the harder our hearts become and the worse our lives become. Is there any hope for a heart that is naturally resistant to God’s Spirit? Yes.
God gave the law to a heart that has resisted God so long that it does not know how to recognize God nor his Spirit’s good ways (8,9). The law was not made for the righteous, that is those who follow the Spirit’s leading and do what is right and good (9).
The law was made to help those that kill their parents and others, adulterers, perverts, slave traders, liars, and perjurers (10). The law was made to help the unholy and those who think nothing is holy nor sacred escape from a seemingly hopeless mess of life that they have made. By accepting and following God’s written life code a hard heart can live a better life.
Bible Daily Bread Devotional has been chronologically following the life of Apostle Paul for several months now. We have been going through the book of Acts and stopping to study his letters as we follow his life through time.
Paul has been freed from a house arrest in Rome. He had been found not guilty. Shortly after this, he wrote Timothy, who was a young pastor in Ephesus (2,3).
The congregation in Ephesus contained people who were teaching things that sounded religious but were merely false doctrines and meaningless talk (3,6).
God’s work is faith (4). Jesus was always impressed when people responded to him in faith. He was only disappointed when people did not have faith. So God’s work in me is faith.
Teaching, learning, and expressing faith are connected to and an extension of love (5). Love comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith (5). If I have faith in God, I will love God and others. If I love God I will express faith in him and his ways.
No matter what troubles and pleasantries happen today I can confront them with faith and love. Myth and genealogy cannot help me practice faith and love.
Love is an emotion and more. Love is expressed in actions and words. Love is a verb and a noun. God is love. Jesus loves me. Jesus taught me to love by example with his sacrificial death, and by word with loving my neighbor like the Samaritan.
The Philippian congregation expressed their love for God and Paul by supporting Paul’s ministry (15,16). They practically showed deep concern for Paul’s troubles (14). Tithing to the church I attend is an expression of love for God, the pastors, and the entire congregation.
Tithing is a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God (18). God showed Adam and Eve the way of sacrifice by killing an innocent lamb to cover their shame when they sinned. Noah sacrificed after the flood. Abraham sacrificed. God taught Israel not only to sacrifice but how to sacrifice. Tithing is an acceptable sacrifice for the body of Christ.
Tithing isn’t always easy. Yet I can trust God when he says he will meet all my needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (19).
Paul says the way to be always content is a secret (12). Continuous happiness and cheerfulness no matter the life circumstances is a secret because many do not know how to maintain this state. Also, so many promises to deliver contentment come alone that never intend to deliver. We grow to accept that it is impossible to always be in that state of cheerfulness and happiness.
Most are like wheat in the meadow. They bend this way and that in mood swings caused by winds of living in want and then plenty. Being short of money because an unexpected bill comes changes the mood from contentment to anxiety.
Paul gives up the secret on how to be in a perpetual state of peaceful happiness. He says he learned the secret of being content in any and every situation (12). Everyone must learn this. Babies seem to reach the deepest contentment until they need their mother’s milk or a set of clean clothes.
The secret is found in verse 13. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” This ties into yesterday’s Bible Daily Bread Devotional. Read it again.
Then meditate on verses 6 and 7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, with guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The state of mind left unchecked quickly deteriorates until it is totally negative and evil for the fallen nature’s desires are constantly enticed by the world. A stable, positive, peaceful, and pleasing state of mind is a constant conscious decision until it becomes routine, primary, and rudimentary. God’s peace through Christ Jesus guards my heart and mind (7).
Rejoicing in the Lord is the main theme of this letter, written by Paul while awaiting trial with either a verdict of death or innocence (4). Rejoicing in the Lord at all times in any life situation is a conscious decision. Elation and cheer in Jesus are not always easy, but they always become positive, peaceful, and pleasing when sincere.
Anxiety is a state of mind that is part of the fallen nature. It is fed by the rejection of the truth that God loves and cares. The Lord Jesus is right here in me and around me (5). He is ready to listen and help. Anxiety is controlled and subdued with talking to Jesus about that which causes me to be anxious. Prayer with a thanksgiving heart is what is intended to overcome an anxious mindset (6).
I can and should decide to think in a way that is ultimately for my own good. I can choose to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, anything excellent or praiseworthy (8). A mind that houses negative and evil thoughts is cold, drafty, damp, and rotting away. It is destined to fall. A mind that houses positive and godly thoughts is warm, comfy, full of pleasing scents, and joy.