There is No Practicality In God’s Love…. Matthew 18: 12-14

 

 

Some weeks I have to go looking for something to write and this was one of them. I usually have several places I look but this week I was drawn to my desk-side bible. I have read many religious pamphlets and study helps and over the years and they have been invaluable in helping to craft a discourse when the well runs dry. In my bible inserted between different pages are snippets of devotionals from different publications over the years, today I re-read one by Doug Ralls. It was written in January of 2013 and published in “Our Daily Bread”.

Matthew 18:12–14  ‘What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

Here I will do something I rarely do and insert a small paragraph from his article. Remember, these are his words, I did not write them.

“But ultimately, I don’t think this parable is intended as a practical solution to an everyday problem. See it more as a description of the radical love that abounds in the kingdom of heaven. God loves us with such reckless abandon that God will ignore practicality in order find us and bring us home.  That’s astounding love. (Doug Ralls)

Reality, and practicality would seem to suggest that to risk losing ninety-nine for one, would not be a wise thing to do. So here in this story of the ninety-nine and one, a very familiar reading and one most Christians know well, Mr. Ralls goes beyond the words and presents us with a wonderful possibility, that in reality, is fact. Here are the facts.

-God’s love is an individual love. As a parent would you not love all your children? You would not rest until all were safe with you.

-Sheep are known to do foolish things. We all know people who do foolish things and often we take the attitude that they got themselves into it, let them get themselves out of it. Give thanks that we have a God that loves us  no matter how foolish we might be. When we have no one to blame for our sins and the sorrow they bring upon us, our God still loves us. It is a patient love of mercy and grace.

-Our God is not content to wait for us to come home to seek forgiveness. The Jews could not understand that God sent his son Jesus Christ, to seek and bring home those that had wandered away. God will not be content until all his children are at home, no matter what it costs.

-Imagine, forgiveness with no grudge, no recriminations and no sense of contempt, just total and complete joy. That is a rejoicing love, a God that loves us with no pre-set conditions and at any cost. When we return to him he puts all our sins behind his back. His joy is boundless.

-Our God’s love is a protecting love. God seeks and saves removing from our lives the sins that cripple, we are free and in his love we become conquerers of temptation.

Yes, let’s give thanks that There is No Practicality In God’s Love…. Mr Ralls article is a great example of how to read and study the scriptures. Going beyond the words, always expect a revelation, hope and encouragement, it is sometimes referred to as the living word and for reason. Pray you have had a good week and I invite you back to the Pew next week.

Life is Good

jk

We Would Do Well to Remember……Psalm 33: 11-22

The events of the past few days leaves us wondering how such evil exists and where we have failed as a nation and a people. The politicians stand on the bodies of the dead and wounded and assign blame to gain political capital. The Churches pray and light candles, call for the people to return to God. The people, well some will parrot their political beliefs, there will be those with an agenda and those that just wish to enhance their public notoriety but the people, the ones who live ordinary daily lives, just want all this hate and violence to stop. Suggestions and solutions will be abundant in the coming days and for months but for Christians it is a time to remember who we are and what we are called to be.

Throughout all history God’s written word has served as a faith strengthener in times of uncertainty, a source of comfort and a place of peace and hope for the days ahead. We literally must seek comfort, direction and peace by returning to God’s word, we must reject the words of negativity and hate that are so prevalent in the discourse of the day. It is important that we remember God will determine what must be done. Did not our God determine to make a world, create man and woman, that he God, would be manifested in the flesh, know death and be resurrected? Did our God not determine that the Gospel should be preached in all the world? All of God’s counsels and thoughts for his people will be accomplished in his time. Seek his counsel, pray that the Spirit will be among us and the peace and assurance of our God be upon us all. We were once a Godly nation and our actions of late show us to be a nation whose path is taking us away from our God. We have only to look at God’s chosen people the Jews who because of their unbelief and rebellion were put aside and God sent his only son into the world with a message of salvation to those who repented of their sins, giving all people who did such the promise of life everlasting. We too are now heirs to the throne through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God, so to speak.

It is important we realize that our God is a God of constant presence. He sees all and knows all, his eye is on all his people. Our God knows what is on our minds and what is in our hearts. Those who enact  and enforce the laws we live by, those in position of wealth and social standing need to know that without the protection of God, there is no time in which their might may not be turned into weakness, their wisdom into folly, and their dignity into disgrace. We all should understand that our God watches over us all and to them that fear him, there is hope in his mercy. Our God is everywhere, in all things and we place our trust solely in him and not the powers and things of this world. We rejoice in his presence in our life and find no peace or value of such lasting permanence anywhere as comforting as that at the foot of the cross. We are and will always be dependent upon our God for there is no shame or weakness therein. We must endure in the faith, or lose our very souls to the evils of the day.

Life is Good

jk

The Verses……The Intent

It saddens me greatly that after all these years the controversy and division within the United Methodist Church continues to this day despite numerous meetings at local, district and general conference and several votes. The controversy of course is the reaction of leadership and lay persons to same-gender polices. Make no mistake, this issue continues to divide the church and I believe that the damage done over the years, yes years, has harden hearts on both sides of this very emotional question. What began as something just kinda hanging around outside the tent of fellowship has managed to find a door and a voice within the fellowship. A few years back the arrival of the social justice warriors changed the discussion to a debate which has escalated to an all out battle for the heart and soul of the Methodist Church. It should be noted that pursuit of social justice has always been a Methodist thing.

Methodism

From its founding, Methodism was a Christian social justice movement. Under John Wesley‘s direction, Methodists became leaders in many social justice issues of the day, including the prison reform and abolition movements. Wesley himself was among the first to preach for slaves rights attracting significant opposition.

Today, social justice plays a major role in the United Methodist Church. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church says, “We hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people to free and fair elections and to the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, communications media, and petition for redress of grievances without fear of reprisal; to the right to privacy; and to the guarantee of the rights to adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care.”  The United Methodist Church also teaches population control as part of its doctrine.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice#Christianity)

So…..other than the subject matter, this is quite in character for the Methodist Church at this or any time, might say it is part of their DNA.  It is not my intent to question  the faith, sincerity, or credibility of the people within or without the church for their views but I do intend to be honest and forthright in my personal view of the current situation. I believe that the emotion brought about by same-gender questions which have damaged the church and have been an on-going thing for years have made it impossible to reach a reasonable, reconcilable  solution to this matter. I would like to introduce another aspect to an already long list of considerations. I present you with the consideration of intent. Consider the following.

Definition of intent : PURPOSE

It is recognized that other factors also influence the direction of this purpose and they are….. Aim, Significance and Sense.  Using these four points read and consider the following scripture from Genesis 1: 26-28

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 

What do you see as the intent in these verses? Keep in mind we are reading God’s intent. If intent has as place in this issue, then verse 28 contains the other three, Aim, Significance and Sense. At this point it is only fair that I remind you that I was a Methodist for well over thirty years. I did not leave the church because of same-gender issues but because I felt that the word of God was being, I will be nice here, marginalized to accommodate the changing attitudes and direction of societal change and the rush to remain relevant in the cultural changes of the day. There will always be scriptural differences and interpretations of the written word, consider the huge number of commentaries and other biblical studies available today in this digital age. It is my opinion that this whole matter should be about the intent of these verses we are looking at today. To me there is no wiggle room in these verses. There is by definition purpose, aim, significance and sense. I will even go as far as to say the Christian view of marriage has been regulated to personal preference and the societal and cultural direction of the day does not share the Christian view of marriage.  Marriage is but one facet of this issue. There is also the biblical fact that this type of relationship or activity associated with the same-gender life style is not compatible with living a Holy life. For now we will not pursue that thought, it is not my wish to lecture or judge at this point, let’s return to Genesis.

Some things in this first chapter are worth noting. The word beginning may not mean the absolute beginning of all things. God’s creative work begins with something already there. There is the view that believes of course God ordered all these things to happen and what is taking place is the beginning of the ordered creation, worldly as well as spiritual; God’s hand upon it all. God passed judgement on it all “and God saw that it was good”. To this point and the things that followed we see that God’s intention includes the elements of beauty, purpose and praise. Back to those verses which are the subject of today’s blog.

I hope you will read these and pray over them. The real substance of this issue that has torn the church apart has many elements and those who seek to impose their will have skillfully pivoted from the God’s command to live a “Holy” life to the call of cultural and societal’s “social justice warriors”. Something wonderful happens in these verses. God creates male and female in “our image” not referring so much to looks but rather to the substance within. We have been given gifts that will enable us to take on the responsibilities given to us by God in these verses. And now that something wonderful happens. From the very beginning God establishes a power sharing relationship with humans giving them this command.

28. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 

The same-gender debate to me is about scriptural integrity. How can we allow God’s intent to be prevented to accommodate what is basically the selfish desires of any group. It is a very simplistic argument, from a layman’s view, sitting in a pew. So…..the bottom line here is how do we do as commanded by Christ and love all people? The real question which has been put aside is, how does the church defend the faith, the word as written and seek to live a Holy life among this hate and strife? You read the verses, pray and let the Spirit lead you.

jk

Life is Good

The Messenger…… Galatians 1: 1-5

The bean counters write that only about 35% of us read some Scripture at least once a week. In order of reader preference the book of Galatians comes in at about #4. Paul’s fight to lift up the message as one of mercy and salvation for all people places him in the position of challenging the Jewish leaders and there is a subdued  anger as he declares  “If justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” Paul  is facing two very real threats to the gospel. We see this same method at work in today’s world as social and cultural pressures come against the church and God’s word. They, the Jews, attacked Paul’s apostleship, many saying he was not an apostle at all, thus casting doubt on his gospel message. Personal attacks are a favorite tool of dissenters, they marginalize a person’s credibility and distract from their message. So as they sought to marginalize  Paul’s message they also attacked the gospel. This was the struggle that had become a battle, and Paul knew it had to be fought. One key fact was that even though there were Jews who had accepted Christianity they held to the belief that all God’s promises and gifts were for Jews alone and God’s promises were for them alone. Simply put, they were never meant to be for the Gentiles.

There are many things at play here in these verses but Paul is a great example of  a person who knows the glory and grace of God and add to that the fact that he knew we can never save ourselves. When his apostleship was questioned he did not present an argument to counter their statements, he simply stated that his authority and his calling had been given to him direct from God. He recalled that day on the Damascus Road when he had met Jesus Christ face to face. For many of us there have been times when we were unknowingly in the presence of God but the things of this life were stronger than our human ability to discern his presence. Paul was certain that God had spoken to him. It is not the vows we take to the church or organization within the church, nor the precepts of any chosen denomination that matters. The thing that matters is, have we come face to face with Jesus? This is critical to our christian faith. As with all things of such magnitude it always will depend on the certainty of the believer, the strength of their faith and then being able to discern God calling them to a specific task. The calling or task if you wish may seem huge and impossible, demanding of us the discipline of a Paul who saw every task as God given and worthy of our best effort. One truth of Christian faith is that we all have a God given task and it is our duty to see it through. Even the most simple of things becomes important to the faith when God calls his people to a task that serves the faith and his people. Paul’s God given task was to share the good news with the world. A large task indeed. Maybe for each of us it is to simply evangelize those around us as we go about our daily lives. It could well be that we are to live a holy life so that others might see Christ in us. Have you found your Damascus Road yet? We have a wonderful message to share. There is of course the undeserved gift in the generous love of God. Paul gave and suffered but for him the power and love of Jesus Christ overcame all and freed many from the bondage of sin. We have been called and chosen, will you answer?

Life is Good

jk

A Story With Many Lessons…Luke 24: 13-34

These verses are sometimes referred to as one of those enduring stories we find in the scripture and after a closer read we find some lessons we often overlook. Late in the day and on a long and dusty road toward Emmaus two men were discussing the events of the day.   Their grief and disappointment were so great that they failed to recognize their savior when he approached them. Do we not at times allow our sorrows in this life to hide God’s glory from us?  Focusing on their grief and feeling that their hopes died on that cross, they felt their lives had lost all meaning.‘We were hoping that he was the one who was going to rescue Israel.’ If we allow ourselves to ponder a moment here we can see what the followers of Jesus were failing to see. In bad times and when we are bewildered and lost, it is only through Jesus that we learn what life means. Our creator, our savior, our God, has given us the gift of free will and we can use it to invite Christ into our lives or pass him by. Another lesson hidden within this story is the power of the ordinary . The men had been walking and talking with Jesus for some distance and still did not realize it was the Lord. That realization came to them in a very ordinary situation. It was an ordinary meal in an ordinary house with an ordinary loaf of bread but it was as Jesus was breaking the bread that they suddenly realized who this stranger was. The Christian lives in a Christ filled world and with Christ our lives transcend the ordinary. We can also look to the behavior of these two men when they realized what had happened and who was speaking to them. They immediately started back to Jerusalem, seven miles away because they could not wait to share the good news with others. The good news of Jesus Christ is meant to be shared with everyone. The power of the message is released through sharing with others. One of the great glories of Christian fellowship is sharing our experiences with those of the faith.

One final word about these verses. These two men were blessed to be in the presence of the Lord and from this story we learned it all came about because they invited him into their home. What about you? Will you invite Christ into your home, your heart and your life?

Life is Good

jk

The World, Sinners and The Church

 

 

There are many things the church does right but there is as with all things those that are wrong. If I were to list my number one concern with the church right now, it would be the SIN of COMPLACENCY.  In chapters 5 and 6 of 1 Corinthians Paul deals with some very practical things that could create some very grave situations within the church.  Today we will ponder the message found in 1 Corinthians 5: 9-13. In the first eight verses of chapter 5 we see a practical truth. Discipline sometimes is necessary to maintain a healthy Church. To shut our eyes to the need for Christian discipline will most of the time result in damage to the church and its people. There are confusing elements involved and sometimes we Christians forget our place and calling, becoming  both judge and jury. Today’s verse’s 9-13, chapter 5, Paul deals with a couple of these situations. One thing is very evident, discipline must never be vengeful and should have as its goal  the purpose of reconciling  the person or persons to God, restoring them to the fellowship of the church and preventing such behavior in the future.

IT appears that Paul had already written a letter to the Corinthians in which he had urged them to avoid the company of all evil men and women. The problem as Paul sees it here is that it would be impossible to carry on a normal life without coming into contact with those  whom the Church would utterly condemn. This is also an impossibility because that would require our withdrawal from the world and that would not allow us to live out our calling and allow others to see Christ in us. It is always interesting to me how the scripture spans the centuries and has practical application in the world of today. Paul zeroes in on three sins which he sees typical in his day and they translate well into our world today and the people that we associate with them.

  • fornicators, those guilty of lax morality

Paul has a very healthy dislike for a lack of moral grounding among God’s people. He sees people living to satisfy their physical needs and using each other or others to meet those desires. All Christians who considers themselves to be children of God should never seek to only satisfy their desires for they will  lose their souls in the process. We have a body and a spirit created by God. A lax attitude of those things God considers to be immoral could banish us from his saving grace.

-There are those who are greedy for this world’s goods.

I call it a get it syndrome. We judge the goodness of life on our ability to acquire stuff. We are slaves to a material standard, the more we have and acquire the better life is. A true christian values service to others and finds joy in giving not getting.

-There are the idolaters. Mortals have always had a need to worship something. It seems to be a natural thing and all through the ages man has had his good luck charms, idols, religions, and even closely followed the stars to plan the course of his life. When people turn from the true God and worship these god’s of luck, their faith and religion grow weak while superstition grows strong.

Within these three basic sins we can find three directions a person could be led.

-Fornication is a sin of personal degradation. It reduces the person to less than what they can be and is a moral condition which is unfavorable in God’s eyes. It allows the lower nature to rise above the higher and we become less than God created us to be.

-Greediness is a sin against our neighbors and our fellow men and women. When you exploit people or situations to feed the greed, so to speak, you ignore the fact we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you cannot love others you cannot love God.

-“Idolatry is a sin against God. It allows things to usurp God’s place. It is the failure to give God the first and only place in life.”  (Barclay DBS) No more needs to be added to this statement.

Paul seems to set forward the principle that we should not judge those outside the church. The Jewish meaning was anyone that was not a Jew, one of the chosen people. Paul felt that their judgement was to be left to God, as only God knows what is in the hearts of men and women. There is a reason for this view he had. Those in the church have special privileges. They have accepted Christ and therefor have special responsibilities and they will held accountable if they do not keep them.

Paul brings the letter to an end by alluding the following verses to command the people to drive out the wicked person among them.

Deuteronomy

17: 7  The hands of the witnesses shall be the first raised against the person to execute the death penalty, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Deuteronomy

24: If someone is caught kidnaping another Israelite, enslaving or selling the Israelite, then that kidnaper shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

It should not be any Christians desire to hurt anyone, but we must put the evil among us out and preserve the purity of the faith. We must protect the Church from the threats of sinful behavior at work in the world today.

Remember….Ours is not a faith of condemnation but a faith of restoration and hope. Thanks for coming by this week, we hope to continue these as soon as we get to our new pew.

Life is Good

jk

A special note: I will be relocating the pew within the next two weeks. I hope to be able to continue the weekly schedule and if I miss a week the wagon hasn’t got there yet.

jk

 

 

A Place With No Borders

Ephesians 2:19–22

So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners resident in a land that is not their own, but you are fellow citizens with God’s consecrated people and members of the family of God. It is on the foundation of the prophets and the apostles that you have been built up; and the cornerstone is Christ himself. All the building that is going on is being fitted together in him, and it will go on growing until it becomes a holy temple in the Lord, a temple into which you too are built as part, that you may become the dwelling place of God, through the work of the Spirit.

Oh if only we as a nation could be like what Paul writes about in the above verses. We have been a nation divided for quite awhile now by many issues that without God will never be solved. One good example would the issue of segregation which was addressed in the late fifties and early sixties but damage was deep and could only be reconciled by legislative actions. While things are better now the one glaring lesson learned was that you cannot legislate what is in a persons heart. We still see the distrust and animosity between people and I can’t help but believe that when God is not present in our hearts there is no room for respect or love for others. That brings me to the issue of this day, our southern border and the influx of people illegally entering our country. As a society and a people we try to let this issue slide because there is no other explanation for what they are doing. There are many compelling reasons for it but by law it is illegal, period. It is compelling and begs for something other than just legislation, but the lack of divine wisdom, politics and the desire to prevail make a human solution impossible. John Lennon wrote a song, Imagine and I ask you to do that with me today.

Some theologians believe that this letter, Ephesians, was a circular letter to all of Paul’s Asian churches. It is with certainty that there was a letter circulating among the Asian churches and it is believed that letter was Ephesians. I could stumble through more words but this paragraph from William Barclay’s Daily Bible Study does a much better job.

Ephesians, as we see it, is the one letter Paul sent to all the eastern churches to tell them that the destined unity of all people and of all things could never be found except in Christ, and to tell them of the supreme task of the Church – that of being Christ’s instrument in the universal reconciliation of all men and women to one another and of their reconciliation to God. That is why Ephesians is the Queen of the Epistles. (DBS Barclay)”

Look at our southern border situation today. As the crisis worsens there, the politicians get louder and different agendas proliferate, the animosity and fervor of the opposing views overpowers humanitarian efforts and reason is no longer at the table. The result is most often we lose all hope of solving this problem. I say again, without God not all things are possible.

The similarities are there so let’s take a look back. Paul was also very good at painting a picture with words. In his day the word for foreigner was “xenoi” and they were in every Greek town. They were disliked and did not have an easy life. They were strangers in a foreign land. The Greek word for stranger was “paroikos”. They were described as a resident alien, one who had taken up residence but had never become a naturalized citizen. These people paid a tax for the privilege of living there. They had one thing in common with the our illegal aliens today. They were never really accepted and were always on the fringe. With all this in mind I ask you to imagine a place with no borders. Within the family of God there are no borders. Through Jesus Christ we have a home with God, there are no borders, come home you are always welcome. It might be a hard stretch to make but please consider this. If God were present in the hearts of those who can make a way here, things would be so much better. We put up barriers, close our minds to anything that might threaten our agendas, even at times refusing to let our own people come to the table of deliberations.

We are the church and Paul saw the church as a building with each of us as a stone, with Christ as the cornerstone that reconciles us to our God. We are many different people with many different ways but our unity in the faith makes us a family, The family of God. There is a lesson here or what I like to call “A God Thing”

Using the church as an example perhaps we would be better off as a nation and avoid such problems if we understood what unity as in the United States could mean. It would not all be about organizations, agendas, political affiliations or even the propagating the views of any body of individuals but just one simple fact. To get back as a nation to God and provide a home with no borders where everyone can dwell in peace, and placing God through Jesus Christ at the table. Maybe we can only imagine because we have allowed our hearts to be harden by the demands of this world.

Yes, it is a stretch….but one can hope. Thanks for coming by the pew this week. I will have some news to share with you next week.

Life is Good

jk

2nd Timothy The Rest of The Book

2 Timothy 4:6–8 

For my life has reached the point when it must be sacrificed, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight: I have completed the course: I have kept the faith. As for what remains, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which on that day the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me – and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing. 

Paul, who has put on the armor of God and fought the good fight lays it aside that Timothy might pick it up, put it on and continue the good fight. Paul has poured out his life to God, he has offered everything he had and now had only his life to offer and he would do that with great joy. Paul had made many journeys, sharing the good news and gospel of Jesus Christ. The journeys had taken him to Asia Minor and Europe through stormy seas and the confines of Roman prison but now he was to set out on his last journey from this life to haven an eternity. This journey would end in the presence of God. The old warrior had no fear. This faith, courage and joy of Paul is open to everyone who also fights that fight and finishes the race and keeps the faith. 

2 Timothy 4:9–15
Do your best to come and see me soon. Demas has deserted me, because he loved this present world, and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful in service. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring with you the cloak which I left behind at Troas at Carpus’ house, and bring the books, especially the parchments. Alexander, the coppersmith, did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will reward him according to his deeds. You yourself must be on your guard against him, for he hotly opposed our words. 

Paul makes known his displeasure with some of those who have let him down, and of course makes mention of the fact that only Luke is still there with him. So what happen to Demas? Paul says he loved this present world more. The first mention of Demas was in Philemon 24, he is listed as a fellow worker. The next time he is mentioned it is without any comment at all. The finial mention is here in Timothy as a deserter. We don’t really know what happen but I would suspect it would fit many a situation of these present times. The years of service, the pressures of the world at that time and the constant temptations of that world might have caused him to walk away. The frustrations of just coping with the needs of the faith were overwhelming. To live a Christian life these days is a demanding task and one that requires a close relationship with God. It could also have been that he underestimated the cost of living contrary to the standards of the world, the constant conflict between that which is holy and that which is not. Do you and I run the risk of falling away? Take heart….the grace of God can once again lay hands on us and bring us back…we have only to ask.

2 Timothy 4:16–22 

At my first defense, no one was there to stand by me, but all forsook me. May it not be reckoned against them! But the Lord stood beside me, and he strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation of the gospel was fully made so that the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the mouth of the lion. The Lord will rescue me from every evil, and will save me for his heavenly kingdom. Glory be to him for ever and ever. Amen. 

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the family of Onesi- phorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth. I left Trophimus at Miletus. Exibulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens, Linus and Claudia, and all the brothers. 

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. 

I guess the place to start with these verses would be how Paul was utterly deserted, not one of his friends stood by him. It was too dangerous to proclaim oneself the friend of a man on trial for his life. Paul knows and does three things even in this dangerous situation. Everyone had forsaken him; but the Lord was with him. Jesus had said that he would never leave his followers or forsake them, and that he would be with them to the end of the world. Jesus kept his promise. Paul was alone but he was alone with God….. that was a good thing. Even during the trial he would continue to proclaim the message of Christ. At that moment he might well be a victim, considered a criminal and condemned by Roman justice but he knew he would be rescued. There was the present danger of judgement by the Romans but what ever the outcome he would be safe for eternity. Paul ends this letter to Timothy by invoking the Spirt of the Lord upon his friends, his last words being Grace,the spirit and peace be with you all.

Drop by the pew again next week

Life is Good

jk

The Charge And Other Things

2 Timothy 4:1–2

I charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead – I charge you by his appearing and by his kingdom – herald forth the word; be urgent in season and out of season; convict, rebuke, exhort, and do it all with a patience and a teaching which never fail.

In the days of Timothy, people were surrounded by false teachers. We see that in our world today. There are those who will go to any length to find arguments that will justify or allow them to do anything they want to do. This behavior is not confined to only the church but is particularly damaging to the faith today. For the church it is a matter of those who tend to think less of sin, they are doing great damage to the church and society.

Paul continues this last chapter of Timothy with a charge and a challenge and shares three things about Jesus. Jesus will be the judge of the living and the dead and the day will come when Timothy’s work will be tested. Did he take the good news everywhere he could and did he do so in love and truth? We today are charged to do the very same thing. Christians should not concern themselves with the criticisms or judgements of others. I am sure Timothy as well as we today looked forward to hearing Well Done from our Lord and Savior. We must stay focused and allow the spirit to lead us in this very important calling. The spirit will enable us to not be distracted by the criticism; it will save us from our egos which in turn could make us self-centered and demanding thanks and praise for everything we do. It will save us from being hurt by others ridicule and ingratitude. Jesus will return in victory. As christians we are preparing the way so that all things will be ready whenever he appears. Christians should live their lives in such a way that at any moment they are ready for the coming of Christ.

Jesus is king. The day is coming when all the kingdoms of this world will on bended knee become the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Our work, Our lives and Our service must be such that it will stand the scrutiny of Christ and be a sign of the reality of our citizenship of the kingdom of God. As christians we must be persistent and carry the word every day to all peoples wasting no opportunity but remembering to be courteous and respectful in our duty to get the message out. We have to get back to making people aware of the sins of this world. The church must address sin and not excuse it to the new norm. People must be compelled to recognize it and see themselves as they really are. There was a day when the church was fearless in rebuking those behaviors that distracted from living a holy life. Not only did good things happen but many bad things were set aside and God had a place in the hearts of his people. All are sinners, there is a common guilt and we should not set ourselves up as moral judges but we have a duty to rebuke and warn, when a such words need to be spoken. In rebuking the sins of this world we should also take care to encourage things which support Godly behavior. Paul recognized that a message of constant rebuke would remove any hope and cause despair among the people. We as christians must have a tireless patience, avoid becoming irritated and never ever look at someone as being beyond salvation. We willingly encourage and enable another’s way to salvation because we have a resolute belief in the changing power of Christ.

I will wrap this weeks blog with things that were expected of Timothy and apply to us this very day.

-stay focused on our calling

-stay steady and not allow the craziness of the world to distract us

-there will be a price to be paid and we must accept it without complaining or regret

-we must remember we are the bringers of good news

-we should always be of service to God, to the Church and to other people

Paul also wrote in another book a good thought to end this day’s blog.

Philippians 4

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Life is Good

jk

The Road Ahead

2Timothy Chapter 3

16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

In the verses 10 through 13 Paul recounts persecutions and sufferings, that took place at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra. He points out to Timothy that the Lord rescued him from all of them and notes the fact that Timothy had been his disciple through it all. He reminds Timothy that those who wish to live a holy life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Timothy should however be aware that evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving themselves and deceiving others. Paul makes note of the conduct of others with their false messages and their continued efforts to harm the Church. Paul points out the service of his loyal disciple Timothy, the word itself cannot even began to express the depth of its meaning as a single English word. Here are just a few of the values that expand and add to the depth of this word.

The Greek word parakolouthein, literally means to follow alongside. It means to follow someone physically through any and all difficulties. To mentally follow and  pay careful attention to that person’s teaching and fully to understand the meaning of what is being said. Simply put to be a disciple one must remain loyal at all times, a friend that understands what is being said and follows in complete obedience. There is much here between the lines and Paul shares a list of things in which Timothy as his disciple has been a part of. An apostle has duties, two of which are teaching and training. Real teaching comes out of real experience. Taking that teaching and training others in its value requires the fact that you have lived it. These two duties require that you know Christ and have striven to live in his way. You truly are training for life. Paul had an aim in life. From that moment on that road to the restoration of his sight he saw nothing but Christ on the cross and took the message of salvation to all he could. As members of the Christian community we should always have a goal, the focus of our aim so to speak. Is our goal Christ centered and faith driven or do we just bend which ever way the wind blows? We must have faith in our God and patience toward others allowing love to guide us to two major requirements of christian living. God forgives and cares and only God enables us to do that. Paul completes these verses by addressing the experiences of an apostle. First in his mind is endurance, not a passive endurance but one of spirit filled faith which faces evil in a way that some good will come out of it. It is not a spirit that takes things as they are but a spirit that through faith takes control of life. That kind of endurance is necessary if we are to conquer the persecutions that will come our way because of our Christian faith. Persecution and hardships will come. Paul is sure God will rescue those who put their faith in God. For those who believe there will always be a future but there is no future for those who refuse to accept the way of God.

These last three verses of chapter three Paul speaks to the value of scripture.

-Scriptures give the wisdom which will bring salvation.

-The Scriptures are of use in teaching.

The Scriptures are valuable for reproof.

The Scriptures are of use for correction.

The scriptures instill in us the burning desire to save others and equips us to do that which we have been called to do.

It was my intention to continue on through 2nd Timothy. After some study and thought I think it best to leave that final chapter to another time. If you have made it to this point I hope you take away with you something that will strengthen your faith and give you the endurance to defend the faith by living the faith each and every day.

Life is Good

jk