Entrusted to Correct {1 Tim. 1:3-5}

textgram_1489616297Sometimes we just don’t act as we ought to, but this is why God has placed us in the care of shepherds – pastors and others who will guide us and remind us of His truth.

Apostle Paul knew that Timothy had some shepherding to do – right where he was. He needed to correct the people in Ephesus, and get them on the right path. This was the reason for Timothy’s stay in Ephesus.

There were men who were teaching others the wrong things about the Christian faith. As teachers we need to make sure we are teaching others the right things, because we are accountable and leading others.

The Truth

As I said when I left for Macedonia, please stay there in Ephesus and try to stop the men who are teaching such wrong doctrine. Put an end to their myths and fables, and their idea of being saved by finding favor with an endless chain of angels leading up to God—wild ideas that stir up questions and arguments instead of helping people accept God’s plan of faith (1 Tim. 1:3-4, TLB).

The Nudge

New believers were following these men of God. But, how they were being led astray! They were not getting the firm foundation of truth they needed, and so Timothy was being led to shepherd these people – and teach them the truth even if that mean correcting their leaders.

We are saved by God’s grace and His grace alone. Jesus Christ is what makes up the Christian faith, and these men were deviating from the truth of grace.

Be Careful

As Christians seeking to nudge other believers onto the right track, we have to be careful how we approach these situations. While it may be tempting to respond in haste, when others are acting outside of God’s trusted will, we are called to respond in love.

What I am eager for is that all the Christians there will be filled with love that comes from pure hearts, and that their minds will be clean and their faith strong (1 Tim. 1:5).

We speak up, because believers need to believe and cling to His truth. As we speak up, we have to remember it’s about defending the truth of the Gospel – which requires prayer and boldness.

For godly leaders, spiritual correction is difficult but essential. This is part of their call, as our shepherds.

The Ultimate Goal

As we are being led by the Holy Spirit, let us remember that the ultimate goal is to see others come to place their faith in Jesus Christ and to experience His unconditional love for them. The Holy Spirit wants to use us and the gifts He has placed within us.

As a shepherd, Timothy was being led to correct the leaders in Ephesus. But before he could lead others, he had to make sure that his relationship with God through Jesus Christ was his number one priority – which it was. Timothy was a man of faith and sought to follow the will of God.

How do we know that Timothy, a pastor and man of God, lived what he taught? We see his faith in 1 Timothy 4, as Paul encourages Timothy to continue what he is doing.

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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A Day at the Hospital {The Prayer Offering}

Last night, I wrote about the goal in trials. My goal, during hard times, is to remember I am a daughter of the Most High God and allow this crucial identity to shape my thoughts, words, and actions.

Today, I was given the opportunity to put this into practice. I had an appointment at the county hospital. Things went right. Things went wrong. But, the biggest achievement? It was simply remaining as quiet as possible, as Trigeminal Neuralgia talked to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.

As long as I stay quieter on the rough days, I can avoid saying things that might hurt, rather than help, someone. My ability to control the kind of words – becomes harder, as the symptoms become more intense. The temptation to use hurtful words is definitely there.

The Heart-Felt Prayer

Today was a day of praying for God’s peace and presence. In my life, I have little control over how I feel on a given day (with the exception of my attitude).

What I can do is control how I respond to trials. So I responded, by “trying” to stay quiet. This was both easy and difficult. It was easy, until the moment of leaving the hospital to go home. Then, the overwhelming symptoms and impatience kicked into gear.

The good news is – I survived my long hospital day. I am preparing to have surgery in about 1.5 weeks. We had appointments scheduled for today and Friday, but by God’s grace and faithful prayers of others – I was able to get it all done today.

What We Need

The truth is. . . We need to pray over our souls for His peace and presence. This is what we need more than anything.

We can survive many things, but only with Jesus Christ leading the way. I don’t know about you, but nothing soothes my anxiety quite like the peace and presence of our great Savior, King Jesus, can.

If you are finding yourself in a rough spot tonight, begin praying over your souls for His peace and presence to overwhelm you. When we are overwhelmed by God, His presence, and unimaginable peace, we are in the best place possible to overcome our trials. They will not overcome us, but we will be able to overwhelm them with our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, overwhelm our souls with Your peace and presence. We live in a difficult world. You remind us in John 16:33 that we will face troubles in this life, but You offer to us a peace that is nothing like this world’s. Overwhelm us with Your peace and presence. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7, TLB).

I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

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?