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.

Following Perfection Versus Jesus

I have been feeling led to study 1 Timothy for quite a while. As I study, I generally blog about whatever it is – that I am studying. The Timothy study is tugging at my soul frequently these days, reminding me of where I need to be.

Why haven’t I committed to this study? I have perfectionist tendencies and set lofty expectations I cannot realistically meet. My heart and physical abilities are in two separate places, and must be able to meet.

Developing Courage

We miss so much when we put everything on hold – in case we can’t follow through as planned. Our expectations cannot be more important than God and relationships.

Here is the thing: Perfectionist level expectations can strain those relationships and hold us back, to the point where we won’t immerse in our friendships or read our Bibles without the promise of expectations being met.

The Real Question

How willing are we – to step out in faith, where we trust Jesus Christ to make us courageous people?

We have been called to be strong and courageous. Every little bit we give to God is a worship offering. Just because we miss our own expectations, does not mean that we somehow miss His or those of loved ones. We have to be willing to lay down our own expectations, and exchange it for time with Jesus and those we care about.

Allowing Ourselves to Worship

It goes back to the truth of being a living sacrifice. When we give ourselves to God, we become an acceptable offering.

Jesus Christ is the key ingredient. We need Jesus to be the One leading us, even in our expectations. He is the One who enables us to set reasonable expectations for ourselves and those around us. So, let’s make our lives about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

While my best efforts aren’t enough, I have a Father whose resources are unlimited. This Father of mine is willing to help out His sons and daughters in any and every way – as we call upon His name. We may not meet our own expectations, but this is the place where we meet the grace and amazing love of our great God.

Choosing Wisely

Standing in this place of  God’s love and grace is where we can allow ourselves to make a trade. We can trade in our high expectations, for the opportunity to stand in awe and worship God – as we trust Him to make a way.

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9, NRSV).

Friends, we must choose whether we want to follow our perfectionist tendencies or Jesus Christ – the Living God. Our lives are messy and out-of-control, which may lead the perfectionist march, but Jesus Christ is more than enough. He doesn’t have to try to be, for He is perfect!

As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure (Ps. 18:30-32, NIV).

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 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