Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 Timothy 6:3-10 The Riches of Contentment

This is one of the most concentrated teachings on contentment in all of the Bible.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

There are untold, immeasurable, unfathomable riches in being content!  Looking at life through the lens of contentment changes everything!  We feel no lack!  Am I content with what I have?  Is having food and clothing enough for me?  Am I not only content but grateful?  Are the things I feel like I’m missing really necessary?  Do I really believe that by wanting and having more, I actually have less?

Did you know that the average family walks away from college with a degree and $50,000 in debt?  Or that the average credit card debt per person over 18 in the United States is $7,000 (in a marriage, that means $14,000)?   Divorce.com cited “financial problems” as the number one reason for divorce in America.  Discontentment is taking a huge toll on our families!

Paul wrote that contentment keeps us from several things:

  • Falling into temptation.  When we are content with our “daily bread” we are kept from temptation to want more and more and more and more (Matthew 6:9-13).  It also keeps us from the temptation to be prideful (Proverbs 30:8-9).
  • Being ensnared by our foolish and harmful desires.  Doesn’t carrying the weight of discontentment and the baggage of doing anything to get what we want feel like we have our lives in a giant trap sometimes?
  • Plunging into ruin and destruction.  Proverbs 11:28 says, “Whoever trusts in riches will fall.”  It might be those relationships that are sacrificed on the alter of greed and discontentment.
  • Wandering from the faith.  Our pursuit of earthly, temporal gain steals our affections from the Lord.  We cannot love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength while simultaneously loving money.  Discontentment distracts us from what we really believe to be true.  (Matthew 6:24)
  • Pierced with many sorrows.  Anyone who is chasing wealth and possessions knows all too well the sorrows that pierce their own hearts.

Is money evil? NO!  But the love of money is.  The love of money may look differently in each of us.  For me it has been a mind dominated by calculating and covering financial imbalances.  For others it might be working hard at the expense of your family to get what everyone wants.  It might be as simple as spending time daydreaming about winning the lottery.

1 Timothy 6:10a “For the love of money is a root of al kinds of evils.”

Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he (God) has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’.”

Is God enough?  Am I content to have Him?  Am I content with what He has given to me?  Discontentment says that God is not good and that He is not enough.

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1 Timothy 5:1-6:2 Random Points

Our church’s women’s Bible study just started back up last week, and there is a lot of daily reading so I feel like my first commitment to read and blog through the New Testament has kind of taken a back seat this week.  But thankfully, God has been speaking to me daily through other portions of Scripture.  And if any of you ever get a chance to do “Can We Talk?” by Priscilla Shirer, I recommend it highly.

Timothy has been kind of difficult for application for me anyway, since it was primarily written to encourage and equip a pastor on church function, order and discipline.  I am just going to share my notes of things that stuck out to me as I read.  Warning: there is no rhyme or reason.

Pure Relationships In the Church Body (1-2).  Treat each other like family: older men like fathers, younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, and younger women like sisters.  Protect. Respect. Comfort. Encourage. Listen. Love. Have fun together.  We practice godliness by caring for our families!

Rules for Elders.  It is the responsibility of the leadership of the church to take care of the church family.  This must be done without any judgments or favoritism.  Everyone needs encouragement.  All widows need honor and care.  Elders are also to be regarded with honor and they are to live worthy of that honor.  If an elder is caught in sin, he is to be publicly rebuked so the church knows sinful behavior will not be covered up or tolerated.  Elders must not be chosen quickly…each candidate must be evaluated over the course of time because sin is not always conspicuous immediately and good works take time to manifest themselves.

Personal Application:  I could be a widow one day, and I need to aspire to being an honorable older women so that God can provide for me through His church!  I need to have a reputation for good works, bring up my children well, show hospitality, serve the saints humbly, care for the afflicted and be devoted to good.  I must not be lazy, a gossip, or a busybody.  All of this takes daily choices and constant surrender!  I can’t wake up one day and be an honorable older women if I haven’t been an honorable younger woman.

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1 Timothy 4 ~ Intense Training!

I know this was a letter written from Paul to Pastor Timothy encouraging him to keep going and giving him directions on being a young pastor in a young church, but there were five words that jumped out of the chapter into my heart: “Rather train yourself for godliness.”

I know I have written before about being a “runner” and training for a half marathon, but the truth is, I’m not very good at following any professional running guides. I prefer running for the sheer enjoyment and reward.  Now my running partner–she is serious about running and training.  I value that about her.  She knows exactly what she wants to accomplish each day, checks her heart rate regularly, eats extremely healthy to properly fuel her body, and sacrifices sleep to accomplish her plans.  What great examples for how we should train for godliness too.

There are several key words in this chapter that tell us the “how” of training for godliness:

  • Toil and strive in ministry
  • Devotion to the reading and teaching of Scripture
  • Do not neglect the gifts that God has given us
  • Practice–be diligent
  • Immerse yourself in Scripture–be absorbed, throw yourself wholly into
  • Pay close attention/keep a close watch/examine yourself
  • Persist/persevere
  • Make evident progress

If our righteousness is from Jesus and not of ourselves, why does training for godliness even matter? Loving godly living proves our salvation is real, and God uses it to lead others to salvation.  Living godly lives prepares us for the eternal presence of a Holy, living God in Heaven.  And finally, if we are going to tell others about Jesus our lifestyle needs to match our message.

“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

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1 Timothy 3 ~ Pillar of Truth

This chapter opens up with a list of qualifications for any man who aspires to lead in the church by being and overseer/elder.  I have to brag on my man here!  He is an elder at our church and as I read through this list, he matches each description–above reproach, one woman man, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, manages his household well, with all dignity, teaching his boys submissiveness, humble.  I am so blessed! Brad, if you read this, “YOU ROCK!”

As a woman, I can aspire, too.  Verse 11 gives a great list of acceptable behavior for a women who wants to lead or help her husband as he leads.  She must be dignified (worthy of respect), not a slanderer (no malicious talk, no gossip, no speech that damages others), sober-minded (temperate, sensible, self-controlled), and faithful (trustworthy, dependable) in ALL things.

Why are there so many specifications for leadership in the church?  Because we are God’s family, we represent His name!  When we live our lives in such a way that we are “well thought of by outsiders,” and “gain a good standing,” people think well of the Living God whom we represent.  

The church’s purpose is to be a “pillar and buttress” of the truth–to hold it up, support it, show its grandeur, lend beauty to its solidity, be anchored to it, but reaching out from it.  And what is this truth?  The good news of Jesus Christ–the only perfect, sinless Son of God who came to earth to bear our sins on the cross, took our punishment, was raised to new life that we might believe on Him alone for our redemption and salvation and walk in new life in Him!  Or as Paul so poetically described it:

He was manifested in the flesh,

Vindicated by the Spirit,

Seen by angels,

Proclaimed among the nations,

Believed on in the world,

Taken up in glory.

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1 Timothy 2 ~ True Beauty

The world’s standards for beauty can be measured in a contest, on a runway or in a photo spread, but there are women who are absolutely radiantly beautiful by God’s standards. His idea of beauty is much different! That beauty does not come from outer adornment–fancy clothes, perfect accessories,or showing a lot of skin.  It shines out of the heart!  Eyes that sparkle with joy and lips that part to share wisdom, kindness and love are the essence of true beauty.  Hands that fold in prayer, petition, supplication, and thanksgiving for their world and for salvation.  Women who have a modest heart and demeanor are beautiful.  Women who display self-control in their actions and reactions.  Women who fill their time with good works.  Women who learn and live quietly and know how to use the great power that is entrusted to them to build and honor others.

I cannot apart from surgery get a perfect face, be rid of cellulite, or have an ideal smile.  I cannot cover my wrinkles well or hide the fact that my hair is turning gray.  However, I can grow in beauty when it is true beauty.  I can let God transform my heart, my actions, my speech.  I can shine with His love and grace.  And through His perfect Word, I can be equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17) 

Lord, make me beautiful!

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1 Timothy 1:12-20 ~ Humble Ministry

Tonight our church’s ladies Bible study is resuming after about a six week hiatus.  I have come to the Lord more today in utter dependence and need than any day over the past six weeks.  I am not qualified on my own to lead.  I am not gifted on my own to lead.  I am not even worthy on my own merit to lead.  It is only by the strength of the Lord as an out-flowing of His gift of mercy in my life.  Anyone who knew me before I came to Christ would know I don’t deserve to be entrusted with this “appointed service.”

Paul felt that way too.  As a former persecutor of Christians and hindrance to the growth of Christ’s church (12), who would have thought that God would use his life in such a powerful way.  That’s how it is with our Lord.  He takes the completely common and unholy and gives them overflowing grace, mercy, love, faith, patience and purpose!  He doesn’t use perfect people to accomplish His plan–only transformed people!

Some people come to a place in their Christian life where they forget they daily need the grace of the Lord to operate.  They find their competency in their skill set, ability or earthly praise.  They forget their sinfulness and think they are doing pretty well.  These people are in danger of shipwrecking their faith and taking down others with them (19b-20).

How can we avoid shipwrecking our faith:

  • Never forget who we were before Christ rescued us. (13a)
  • Remind ourselves often of the good news–that Jesus died for sinners like me. (13-15)
  • Think about where we would be without the grace, mercy, love, faithfulness, and patience of the Lord. (13b)
  • Keep a humble view of ourselves.(15)
  • Remember that God saved us not just for ourselves, but as an example to others. (16)

These truths will cause worship to well up in our hearts (17).  They equip us for spiritual battle (18) and give us a clear conscience (19).

All honor and glory to God forever and ever!  He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17

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1 Timothy 1:1-11 ~ Discerning Truth from a Lie

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy–who was like a spiritual son to him.  Timothy had been in Ephesus pastoring the church, combating false teachers, and putting structure in the church where the gospel was transforming lives.

In Paul and Timothy’s time there were truth teachers and false teachers; and there still are.  The people needed to be able to discern to whom they should listen and follow; and we still do.

Truth teachers have an aim (5) and the bulls-eye is love.  Things that are aimed have a forward, straight trajectory.  There is an undeniable outcome.  They hit a mark.  There is a clear future hope.  Truth teachers focus on the glory of the gospel.  They use the law as a means to expose our sinfulness and our need for a Savior.  They promote faith out of their own love for God and His people.  They teach love, not law, because all the law hangs on love (Romans 13:8, Matthew 22:38-40).  Their teaching stems from a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere personal faith.

False teachers have no aim (6). They cause people to swerve and wander because they themselves have no confident hope.  Their attention has a backward focus–consumed with myths and endless genealogies.  Their speculations have no clear end or outcome.  Their discussions result in empty, vain words.    They use the law unlawfully–that following it is a means to being good enough for God instead of faith alone in Jesus Christ.

False teaching elevates self.  We can make our own way.  We have made a name for ourselves.  We can philosophize with our superior intellect. We get the glory.  We don’t want anything or anyone to have authority over our lives.  

Believing absolute truth about God gives Him authority over our lives.  It humbles us to see that our salvation is completely dependent on Him, not on our “goodness.”  It results in loving Him and others, not getting others to love us.  Believe and living in light of truth gives God glory.  

As I learned in 2 Thess. 2 there are two kinds of people in the world…those who refuse to love the truth and those who choose to believe the truth.  What we do with the truth is the most important decision we can make in this life.

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2 Thessalonians 3 ~ BUT the Lord is Faithful!

2 Thessalonians 3:3,5 “But the Lord is faithful.  He will establish you and guard you against the evil one…May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

In His faithfulness, the Lord grounds us, guards us, and guides us.  

Grounds Us.  Evil is all around us.  We have an Enemy that wants to flatten us and render us useless in our labor for the Lord.  When I think of being established my the Lord, I think of a stately, deeply rooted tree.  It cannot be easily knocked down.  Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”  When God establishes us, He makes us strong and sturdy–able to stand firm come what may.

Guards us. How does God guard us against evil?  In Psalm 91:11 it says that God sends His angels to guard us.  2 Timothy 1:14 tells us that the Holy Spirit is our guard.  God’s surpassing peace guards our hearts and minds too (Philippians 4:7).  With godly wisdom He guards our mouths and our paths according to many verses in Proverbs.  To be guarded from evil, we must be surrounded by our guards.  When we walk in obedience to God, we are right in the center of His protection, even in the midst of persecution and affliction.

Guides Us.  The Christians in Thessolonica were under persecution and suffering.  They needed reminded that God loved them.  Their suffering didn’t mean that God had abandoned them or that He was displeased with them.  He loved them in the midst of their adverse circumstances!  They also needed to remember the example of Christ’s endurance in suffering even to the point of death.  They needed to remember the eternal victory He claimed over death and draw from His power for endurance in their affliction.

Because I know God loves me and what my Savior endured, I can stand firm!  The Lord is faithful!  He is my strength.

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2 Thessalonians 2 Part 1 ~ 2 Peoples

This passage has been really difficult for me to process.  I love theology (The study of the nature of God) and doctrine (knowing firmly why I believe, what I believe).  But these verses shook my core–especially “God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false” (11) and “God chose you from the beginning to be saved.”  Does God really choose some to be saved and others to perish?  Why would we pray for people to be saved?  Why would we need to share the Good News with others?  Would that even be “Good News?”  Thankfully, as I cried out to God to help me, He reminded me that to answer big questions, we need a Big Book!  There are no inconsistencies in God’s Word, and it holds every answer to every question.

God loves the whole world (John 3:16) and He doesn’t want anyone to perish but everyone to know the truth, repent, and receive eternal life/salvation (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4). He sent Jesus–the TRUTH (John 14:6)–into our world not to condemn, but to save (John 3:17).  Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  In Acts 16:31 it says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

2 Thessalonians shows us that there are only two kinds of people in this world:

  1. Those who refuse to love the truth and be saved.  Their sin of unbelief leaves them condemned and headed for eternal destruction and death.  
  2. Those who believe the truth and are saved.  Belief results in righteousness before and a relationship with the God of Heaven and the hope of living eternally with Him.

When people spend their whole lives refusing to believe the truth, God will give them over to the lies that will destroy them because He is just.  Those who believe, receive from God: love, eternal comfort, good hope and grace.

How we respond to the truth–In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”–How we respond to Jesus means everything!  Will we refuse or believe?  People who are in eternal destruction are there by their choice–their refusal to believe in Jesus and be saved.

“Indeed, the “right time” is now.  Today is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

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2 Thessalonians 2 Part 2 ~ 2 Powers

I broke this chapter into two blogs because there is so much to think about.

In this passage there are two powers mentioned–Jesus Christ and the “man of lawlessness”  (Some call him the antiChrist.)  We know that believing in Jesus brings salvation and that He is truly God.  The “man of lawlessness” is described as: opposing all gods and worship; exalting himself as God; filled with evil power, falsehood and deception.  Even though the actual “man” hasn’t been revealed yet, there are a lot of “anti-Christs” in this world–anyone who opposes God and exalts self is living a deceived life and headed down the path of destruction.

In verse 6 it says that the “man of lawlessness” is being restrained until it is his time to be revealed.  If this antiChrist can be restrained it can only be by One more powerful than himself.  

In verse 8 it says, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.”  Just one breath, just one look!

Will you choose to follow and emulate the Restrainer-the All-Powerful One or will you choose to oppose Him and mirror the “lawless one” living and exalting yourself as your own god and taking pleasure in unrighteousness?

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