Declared Grace and Mercy {1 Timothy 1:1-2}

textgram_1489616274Paul, an apostle of King Jesus according to the command of God our Saviour and King Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in faith: grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and King Jesus our Lord (1 Tim. 1:1-2, NTE).

Paul is a messenger of God. He doesn’t write Timothy to chit-chat about the latest gossip news (he wouldn’t do that, anyway). The Holy Spirit compelled Paul to write and remind Timothy to which he has been called. Here in 1:1-2, Paul reminds Timothy of the hope we have found in Christ – that Timothy too had come to know on an intimate level.

This hope found in Jesus Christ, we need to know on an intimate level. We need to dig deep into our relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ, for He is where hope and life is found. Through the Bible and prayer, Jesus is where we need to place our focus.

When our hope is fixed on Jesus Christ, we will not become easily discouraged (see Heb. 12:1-3). In Jesus Christ, the Living God, our souls are built up and “placed on a rock” (see Ps. 40:2), where we and our faith will be protected from the fiercest of storms.

The Place of Grace

“Jesus is the basis for Christian hope, because He is the Mediator of the covenant of grace (on 1 Timothy 1:1, Reformation Study Bible).”

God has true unconditional love for us, and wants to bring us back to Him – to restore the kind of relationship we have with Him. He wants to call us His friends – His people – and not His enemies. This is what led Jesus to the cross. We are given forgiveness and entrance into God’s Kingdom, as we acknowledge what Jesus has done on our behalf and just come to Him.

Pronounced Mercy

In his letters to Timothy, Paul makes sure to pronounce mercy upon Timothy’s weary soul. As a man of God, Timothy needed the reminder of God’s abundant mercy. God is going to take care of us, just as He took special care of Timothy. Even though we could do nothing to earn any of God’s grace, peace, or mercy, God joyfully gives it to His people – those who have chosen to accept His Son Jesus Christ and follow Him.

[Paul] calls down the benefits of God’s covenant, which no one merits but God freely gives. Grace refers generally to all God’s gifts and his loving disposition toward his people. Peace describes the one who is at rest in God.

Mercy in this instance denotes God’s special care of an individual in need. At the outset, Paul thus reminds Timothy that God’s unearnable love and peace will overshadow his servant even in the most difficult of circumstances. Today, this is our promise—as sure as the authority of Scripture (on 1 Timothy 1:2, IVP Commentary).

Our Living Hope

God has chosen to overflow our souls with His grace, peace, and yes – His awesome mercy. This is what we have been welcomed into, as we answer His invitation –

And He said to them, “Follow Me [as My disciples, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk], and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19, AMP).”

Jesus Christ is our hope. He is the reason we can wake up every morning and celebrate, even when circumstances are more than a little bit on the difficult side. Jesus Christ is our Risen Savior, who paid the price of our sins and has restored our relationship with the Father. We can now walk and talk with our heavenly Father like Enoch did, as he lived on earth.

And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him] (Genesis 5:24, AMPC).

Until next time,

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The Goal in Trials

Even on difficult days, I have chosen to operate my life from a place of priorities. I am a child of the Most High King. Even in these days, where life requires much more energy, I am still a child of God. This is what drives me through rainy weather and helps me to put brakes on unwholesome decisions.

And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty (2 Cor. 6:18).

As a Christian, someone who has been given their spiritual rebirth by the blood of Jesus Christ, I want to still be able to glorify God by continuing to live out my faith. As I undergo difficult life moments, God is reminding me of the pruning work He is doing.

God is taking the unfruitful layers of my life, like pride and self-sufficiency, and causes me to bear fruit, like love and kindness, that will draw others to Him.

In John 15, we are reminded of two things: abiding in Jesus and being pruned by the heavenly Father as proof we are His (see John 15:1-4; Matthew 7:15-20). Jesus Christ thinks we are worthy of His love and to be continually worked on, because He loves us (see Heb. 12).

Even while we were His enemies, because of our sin, Jesus Christ died on the cross, rose again, and carried us to the Father to have our relationship restored.

I love the “feel good” aspects of being pruned, which is the spiritual fruit that grows in this famine season. Being pruned and hanging on for dear life is difficult, but the benefits make it a bit easier. Even so if I have my chance for a different life, I just might take it.

The Goal –

The goal I have is to act like a daughter of the King.

I want to be a light to the world, and not cause another to be hindered. I want others to see Jesus in me, and to protect my relationships from hurtful words spoken in the midst of suffering.

Being able to act like I belong to Christ is the greatest achievement there is, and it is something only Christ can accomplish in us! It requires us to draw near to Jesus, and keep growing in our relationship with Him. As a result, we become like Him. We become more loving, patient, and yes self-controlled. We act differently, in spite of our temptations and suffering.

When our goal is to continue in our relationship with Jesus, fruit of being His sons and daughters will bloom throughout our lives.

God can help us to act like Him, even in the midst of dark days. We may find ourselves in the midst of temptation and suffering, but we can overcome the opportunities to do evil – choosing to do good instead.

We may not overcome as gracefully as we’d like, but God is working on our behalf and displaying His power in our lives. At the end of the day, He is all that matters!

{{PSST: One of the most encouraging aspects of this blog is the trials section (or here). Get ready for whatever the Lord brings. When God is orchestrating it, things turn out very good}}

Until next time,

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The Most Humbling Worship Offering {Romans 12:1}

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1, ESV).

We are urged by God to give Him our bodies – as a living sacrifice. God wants all of us, as we are today. He doesn’t want us to hold off – until our bodies or souls have made it closer to a version of perfection. God wants us, as we truly are.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel as though my body is worthy enough to be a sacrifice, or worship tool, for my great God. I feel so far from where I could be, in terms of my physical body, sensitive and overwhelmed soul, and yes even in my relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

I want for God to be given more of me. As I enter this new season of life, I have to remember God wants me as I am. Though unworthy, He accepts me. . . and invites me to come to Him as I am. I can lay down the mask of this false self, where I pretend to be more fine or spiritual than I am. I can lay down the expectations I can never meet.

Because Jesus Christ invites me to come, and boldly come to His glorious throne as Hebrews 4:16 teaches us, I can walk in fellowship with my Wonderful Savior and Prince of Peace. What makes the difference? It is in the assurance that Jesus Christ has purposefully chosen to have a relationship of constant communion with me, that I can freely offer my body as a living sacrifice.

While I may not have much to give, I can make the deliberate choice to give what I do have – to Jesus Christ.

This is about spiritual worship. This is not about seeing my offering as “too little.” Rather, it is about coming to Jesus with whatever I have to offer.

Jesus Christ is the King of all Kings, the Name above all names, and He has chosen to make my body His dwelling place. He has made the deliberate choice to love me, even when I am most unlovable.

He has chosen to make His presence known, even in the midst of physical hardships beyond my control.

Jesus Christ has chosen to love us. Even when we were once His enemies, He came to reconcile us with the Father. While our relationship with our heavenly Father was once shatter “beyond repair” (if left up to us, mere humans), Jesus Christ brought us into this glorious place of restoration through His suffering, death, and resurrection.

God is all powerful. He is the only One who can take our broken pieces, and make us whole.

This is what He is choosing to do, as He invites us to give Him the broken pieces of our lives, and turn them into a complete spiritual worship tool.

. . . We may not have much to offer, but how willing are we to give God what we do have to offer?

Week 9: 2 Thess. 3:3 (God is Faithful)

Life can be intensely overwhelming and confusing at times. As we go through circumstances in our lives, we will be met with the reality of our faith – as it stretches or shrinks.

| The key is in seeking Jesus with whatever we have to give. |

Lately, I have faced difficult days, but the truth is – those days have forced me to remember God is faithful. He is the One I can truly count on. While I can’t “count on” better circumstances, I can expect God to be faithful – regardless of what I face. He is always available, holy, authentic, and loving.

God is always faithful and true to His Word! God has much to give us as we seek His face. He wants to pour into us His truths and the reality that He is for us!

God has declared His faithfulness and everlasting love, to us, through His Son Jesus Christ!

. . . Praise God for His faithfulness!

God’s Faithful – Even When We Aren’t!

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one (2 Thess. 3:3).

I am thankful for this week’s verse, because life can really beat me down. Yet in today’s verse, we are given the hope found in Jesus Christ.

. . . While I may find myself in a place where I am struggling to just hang on, God is ever-faithful! He is the One who gives me hope and carries me even when I feel like I cannot take one more small step.

The amazing part is – God meets each of us, right where we are, and reminds us He is faithful. He is absolutely for us and pursuing us. I am not sure what you are facing today, but know you are not alone.

God is with you, enabling you to hold on, and remember His hope found in Jesus!

God Reminds Us of His Truth

God reminds me in this place of sticky circumstances that it is about Him. It is about drawing near to Jesus Christ with our whole hearts and receiving what God has chosen to give us.

It is about the relationship we can have with our heavenly Father, because of His amazing love that reconciles.

It’s knowing that God

. . . will light the way.

. . .  offers us His hope found in Jesus.

. . . has made a declaration with His authentic love for us.

. . . stays with us, as we face life. Not only does He make His presence known, He is fighting for us – just as He has always done.

May We Resolve. . .

. . . to stay close to our Savior Jesus Christ and experience His hope and love for our lives. May we resolve to choose Him again and again, even if we are having a rough day. While difficult circumstances are not our preference, let’s allow this time to remind us of the great faithfulness of our God.

Yahweh, our great God, gives us three specific promises in this week’s memory verse –

(1) God is faithful.

(2) God will strengthen you.

(3) God will protect you from harm.

Week 8: 2 Thess. 2:15 {Stand Firm, My Friends}

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15, NIV). 

I have this week’s memory verse posted in several places of our home. It has continued to serve me with the needed reminder to stand firm and hold fast to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Even though I finished week 8 many weeks ago, I haven’t been able to take it down.

It has provided necessary encouragement, throughout the difficult days, when giving up seems tempting.

Stand firm literally means to keep one standing. In order to stand our ground, we must remember the hope we have found in Jesus Christ. We cannot allow circumstances to cause us to waiver either to the left or right, if God has called us to a specific thing. Let’s trust Him and obey Him in that specific thing.

In order to persist, we need to remember Jesus Christ’s word – which has lovingly been given to us. While in the Bible we are taught many things about God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the life He is lovingly calling us too, this is where the Holy Spirit steps in. In many different scenarios I cannot tell you what God is calling you to do, but God definitely is able to do exceedingly more than you could ever ask Him to do.

He promises us wisdom when we ask for it, gives us the resolve to stand strong, and helps us to continue on. A message we all, including me, need to hear – because we can get weary at times. God is calling us to stand strong in our faith. It is impossible to do this, when we are not allowing ourselves the necessary time spent in His presence and reading our Bible.

Keep listening for His voice, as you persevere and seek Him above all things.

This is definitely one truth we need to hold close to our heart, as we seek to live out the truths we learn in the Thessalonians.

See Psalm 46:1; Proverbs 3:5-6; Eph. 3:20; James 1:5