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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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

Week 3: Five Friday (1 Thessalonians 3)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths On. . . 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

(1) Because of their aching hearts, Paul sent someone to go and check on the Thessalonians. Even if they had social media back then, I don’t think it could ever do the heartfelt thing that they set out to do. Physically, they sent Timothy to be with their friends to see how they were doing. Timothy went on the motive of love and risked everything. They didn’t just “like” their status, but went to them and had honest conversations which could have involved confession, glory stories of God’s work, and much encouragement.

(2) Suffering are a part of every Christian’s life. In 3:3-4, we learn how the missionaries prepared the Thessalonians for what they would face. They were well prepared for the expected suffering. God used the brethren to help prepare them as well as encouraging them to endure. Their new life meant they wouldn’t undergo suffering without the support of the body of Christ.

… But of course you know that such troubles are a part of God’s plan for us Christians.  Even while we were still with you we warned you ahead of time that suffering would soon come—and it did (TLB).

(3) The ministers proved themselves, as they showed concern for the Thessalonians. We live in a time, where it is easy to forget about others. Even in their suffering, these ministers reached out to see how their beloved friends were doing in their faith and in their new lives founded by Christ Jesus. This shows the depth of their love for Jesus and others.

(4) Knowing the truth about their friends’ faith brought joy and comfort to the imprisoned missionaries. Once we finally know how others are, it makes room for comfort and an abundance of joy that moves our hearts nearer to God. Their faith will encourage ours, even if we seem like these great people of faith on the outside. God only knows the measure of our need to hear how God is working in others’ lives. It offers us courage and hope to see how He will move in ours!

(5) Hearing about others’ faith in Christ ought to drive us to worship our Savior that much more. The unknown of a friend’s belief in Christ will drive us to our knees, to pray desperately on their behalf. If desperation precedes joy, the worship is all the more lively and intimate.  It’s a much needed time of remembering God’s goodness and that this is the God who walks with us.

How can we thank God enough for you and for the joy and delight you have given us in our praying for you? For night and day we pray on and on for you, asking God to let us see you again, to fill up any little cracks there may yet be in your faith (9-10).

Week 3: 1 Thessalonians 3:7

Welcome, my friends, to week 3 of our study! I am so glad you are here. Thank you for taking a few moments out of your day to read today’s blog entry in your email or possibly on the website. You will not regret taking this time to invest in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He is the source of all hope and comfort.

The Scripture –

While I am limited in sharing at this moment due to circumstances, I want to be able to share with you our new weekly memory verse.

In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you’re doing keeps us going. Knowing that your faith is alive keeps us alive (1 Thess. 3:7, MSG).

The Truth Revealed –

As I face my own troubles, I can relate a bit with Paul. Honestly, the great “longing exchange” (where the longing for a close friend is mutual) is a tremendous comfort in hard times. When you are in desperate need and alone, quality companionship is one of the top desires one troubled friend could have.

When we are going through hard times, we just need someone to be there for us. . . someone who will lead us straight to Jesus Christ. It’s the exact medicine we need.

We learn a few things about Paul and the Thessalonians –

  • Paul’s Heart: Longed for the Thessalonians, and bombarded with troubles.
  • The Thessalonians’ Heart: Longed for Paul, and continually sought Christ. . . resulting in much spiritual growth even during persecution.
  • Resulting in much comfort, especially for Paul in his time of need.

Hearing others’ stories of faith in Christ makes everything much better. While the circumstances may not change, our heart are uplifted versus drowning. Our perspective changes – because we receive comfort from friends. . . friends who treat our friendship in a godly way. Encouraging us to keep pressing into Jesus, praying over our circumstances, and helping us to hold onto our faith in Jesus and His Good News.

Biblical Friendship

While we may not choose our times of suffering, God can use this time to be encouraged (or encourage others) by others’ faith and show us the kind of friends we have (or are).

The Thessalonians and Paul had biblical friendships. They sought the Lord Jesus to be honored in their lives. They wanted to help encourage one another, pray together, and continue to live out their faith in Christ.

Biblical friendships are hard to find, but are what makes the lasting change in our spiritual lives.

Jonathan and David are a classic example of biblical friendship (see 1 Samuel 23:15-18). They loved each other in a godly friendship; Jonathan made sure to be there when David needed him the most (click here to listen to a sermon on the topic). Likewise, the Thessalonians would have send word back conveying how much they care for Paul and miss him.

Biblical friendships make the difference in our Christian walk, and an important tool in our transformation.

“[Thessalonians’] steadfastness was a great source of comfort to [Paul] in his trials. . . In the inevitable trials of the ministerial office there is no source of comfort more rich and pure than this (Albert Barnes Commentary).”