Psalm 15–God’s Kind of Folks

 

So many times, we focus on what we should not do as God’s chosen people. We should not adopt the culture’s mentality. We should not chase the things of this world…In Psalm 15, David takes a moment to look at what the people God thinks are important, do each day. God is transforming us into his image. While we will never be perfect, until He returns and takes us home, he does highlight traits that set us apart.

God loves folks who are innocent and living a life that honors him. Those folks naturally speak the truth–about themselves, about others and are the helpful, selfless ones. They neither attack, nor defame those they call friends. While they do not have anything to do with the rough crowd, they keep good friends, and do what they say they will–no matter the cost. finally, they help, without keeping tabs and they are honest to a fault. In short, God loves people that seek him and desire to honor and become like him–no matter what it costs or what it takes. Help me, Lord to be one of those people!

God Bless You

Lord
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken.

Mission Ready–2 Timothy Part 1

When we are called to the Lord’s service, he does not simply toss us into battle and tell us to hope for the best.  Instead, he prepares us for the journey ahead, and he arms us with the tools we need to be victorious.  Timothy was still a young pastor of a Gentile Church.  That had to seem a bit daunting for the young shepherd.  But, Paul reminded him and us he was not going in alone.

He first reminded Timothy that he was raised in the faith and taught by the best. Timothy had a Godly Mom and Grandmother.  He grew up seeing what faith looked like and seeing God preparing and protecting the folks he most loved and admired. Second, he reminded Timothy he was equipped with the Holy Spirit of God–God in us.  He guides, comforts and empowers us to be that for which we were created.

We have nothing to fear–we are prepared and equipped to do that for which we were raised and called–Let’s Go do what we were put here for!

God Bless You

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Proper Priority and Respect–1 Timothy 6 Part 1

It is easy to forget that all we do in life, as a believer, we do to honor God.  Paul as he was ending his letter to Timothy and one last principal that he saw as a priority for the Pastor–the teaching of proper priority and respect.  In the church, we cannot allow our faith to be used as an excuse for how we behave.  Paul reminded Timothy that as slaves, the believers needed to be the best and most respectful slaves in the country.  Masters needed to treat their slaves with benevolence and respect.  The priority lies in honoring God–not in the position of employment.

The same holds true in position in life–rich or poor, leader or follower, pastor or new believer–the key is to live a life that honors God first and foremost.  Paul wanted Timothy to see that the prestige the world offers; is simply a distraction to what is really important–following the Lord.

In our lives, we face the same struggle in where we work, in what we own and with whom we do life. Our duty and desire is to follow God.  We recognize that God leads and orchestrates our journey and we are content to follow–wherever it leads.  As we do, he will bless us, provide for our needs and prepare us for the real life of eternity with him.  We have to learn to be content in whatever our circumstance, and allow him to create the life we are to lead.

God Bless You

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slaves.These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Charity Starts at Home–I Timothy 5 Part 2

As a Church, we are called to a higher standard.  It is our ministry to assist those in need.  But, it is also our birthright to care for our own.  Often times in an entitlement society, we forget that first and foremost, we dive in and care for our own.  As a home, we care for our own families as best we can.  As we give, the Lord provides.  As a community, the church dives in and helps those in need without judging or expectation. Finally, we as a body continue to encourage people to embrace life and never give up.  
 
When people lose what is important to them, spouse, career, health or home–it is easy for them to give up and just withdraw from life.  The  family of God is charged, not only with meeting the person’s physical needs, but, also with coming along side and helping them to start again.  Without the spiritual component, we would simply warehouse those whose circumstances have devastated them. 
 
But, we know that he who has begun a good work in us; will carry it to completion until Christ returns. Phil 1:6.  As a body, the church remains available and accountable to restore and release people to complete their Christ centered mission–sometimes that means support, sometimes that means encouragement–but, at all times it means we never abandon our own.  Charity starts at home, and we are the home of the family of Christ.
 
God Bless You
 
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

We are Called to Be Better! I Timothy 5 Part 1

People are a terrible lot.  The way people treat each other is deplorable.  With the expansive media coverage and availability, people have become even more bold and open about treating others with an complete disdain; if they have no use for them.  In the US, there was always a sense of character that prevented people from treating the old, the sick or the vulnerable with anything but proper decorum. In the 21st century, however, those social protections have faded away, and people have become desensitized to the value of others.
 
Paul tells Timothy to remind the Church that we are called to be different.  We are to treat people with love and respect.  Realize that in Roman times people were the same–they placed little value on life.  That is why the church was called to be different.  We are to treat the elderly with love and respect.  We speak to them with kindness and humility. we reach out and help them to do the things time has taken away from them. 
 
In addition, we treat the young with grace, we treat women as the true treasures that God created them to be–we protect, respect and always treat people with honesty and purity.  It is the selflessness we find in walking with God that allows us to be the gracious, the strong and the vigilant in a world of selfish and awful people.  We must embrace our spiritual heritage and  be true people of faith.
 
God Bless You
 
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Time to Get Spiritually Fit–I Timothy 4 Part 1

The greatest lesson to learn in the spiritual world is the lesson that walking with God is a daily discipline.  Planet Fitness is growing across the nation as a franchise because it is set up to make daily discipline less traumatic, expensive and stereotyped.  People can go there on their schedule, with little cost and no one judging them.  That is the way the church is called to be. 
 
People that seek a relationship with God, need to understand that the relationship is ongoing.  It is not a 1 and done scenario.  Just like exercise only works if done consistently over time–walking with the Lord requires daily attention with time in the word and in prayer. Still, as we are learning that truth, it must be learned in a place that withholds judgement and gives encouragement.  We, as the body of Christ, need to be the ones encouraging the daily walk with God and the spiritual discipline in our lives.
 
Paul made it clear that we cannot be the ones condemning folks for not checking the boxes.  It is not about the boxes! It is about a daily discipline of simply seeking God, and training our spirits to humbly follow him.  We are not expected to be perfect, we are simply expected to seek him daily.  Thanks Lord, for remaining available daily and for welcoming our spiritual training without judgement or condemnation.
 
God Bless You
 
The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth. They will tell you not to get married. They’ll tell you not to eat this or that food—perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by believers who know better! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.

6-10 You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.

Teach The Truth–I Timothy 3 Part 2

The world has a way of infiltrating the Church. Certainly, it is because the body of Christ is made up of people.  No matter the time or place, the more people get involved in the faith, the more they want to help God out by incorporating their personal beliefs and traditions into our worship of him.  So many churches have split or died over the silliest issues–carpet color, music, placement of furniture–and a host of trivial matters that do not impact the faith in any way.

Paul tells Timothy–keep it simple.  Worship God, and him only.  Don’t allow the church to define itself by dietary principles, or other man-made traditions.  Allow Christ to be what defines the church. Make him the object of worship.  As we do this, the faith will grow and sustain those who believe.  

In our lives, we too must focus on the truth and the Savior.  We cannot let tradition and man-made rules to drive people from Christ and into the hands of the enemy.  We need to follow him closely and teach the truth to those whom will listen.  All the while, remaining on guard for the attacks of the enemy. God always wants to make it simple–trust him and allow him to lead.  He will make you exactly what you need to be!

God Bless You

The Spirit clearly says, in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

 

God’s Leadership Criteria–1 Timothy 3 Part 1

It is difficult to live a life of faith.  As one draws closer to God–the enemy attempts to derail and nullify them in their faith.  So, when Paul coached Timothy on picking his leadership team, he laid out some petty difficult restrictions.  Paul was no snob.  He did not set out requirements simply to exclude folks he would not like.  He set out criteria that set men apart from the crowd.  He encouraged Timothy to surround himself with  men of faith that demonstrated in their daily lives a humble submission to God’s leadership.  As they walk in faith, Paul lists qualities that would become apparent.

In our walks, God does not call each of us to be leaders in our church.  many would argue, however, that he calls each of us to be qualified to be leaders.  As we look at Paul’s list, he enumerates qualities that come from humbly following God–great reputation, great family and a focused spirit that honors God–in good times and difficult ones.  We understand that our control is limited, but, that if we do follow him, we are more likely to see these qualities than if we do not.  In first Peter 5, Peter warns us, “Be on guard and alert–our enemy roams around like a roaring lion–seeking whom he may devour!” When we are preparing to lead, we can be assured that that warning is in large print and embossed upon each day.  It is an honor to lead–but it is a responsibility and task whose accolades are in no way equal to the responsibilities and the costs.

God Bless You

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
8 In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

Stay Put and Teach the Truth–1 Timothy 1 Part 1

Each of us, as God’s chosen, are given a mission and journey to follow the Lord with humility and a grateful heart. Paul was coming to the end of his days, and his most dear disciple,Timothy, was now leading the church at Ephesus.  Paul had built that church and stayed their for nearly 2 years.  Then, as he returned to Jerusalem, he was arrested and ultimately found himself in Rome.  The letters to Timothy were written as encouragement and coaching on how to lead his church, and how to trust God.

Paul was called by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people).  As the Jew of Jews, it was an amazing transformation–that lead him all over Asia and Europe preaching the news of Christ’s life and salvation.  As he began caching Timothy, two principles emerged–stay where you are and teach the truth.

Many in the area were trying to subvert the Gospel and make salvation about what you know or where you are from.  Paul, and now Timothy, were teaching the truth–Salvation was, is and always will be about Christ and what he has done.  Amidst all the opposition, Timothy was doubting how useful his ministry was.  Paul was reminding him–stick with it, God has got this!

In our lives, we see the open and apparent evil in our culture.  We see the church literally being forced to remove the welcome sign in our town.  The Gospel is under fire from all sides–schools, entertainment, the courts, government.  Still, in the midst of the battle, God says to us–“Stay where you are and teach the truth.  I have got this!!!” We can never consider the notion that no one is listening.  The truth is that the enemy is listening, and it is driving him nuts. It reminds him that we win in the end.  Stand firm and speak the truth!

God Bless You

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy my true son in the faith:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

Dad’s Gone–Now What? Genesis 50

Projection–it is the perception that others will behave or perceive the same way that you behave or perceive.  Israel’s sons were clearly projecting their reactions on to their brother Joseph.  When Israel died, the brothers all buried him back in Canaan.  When they returned to Egypt–they were very concerned, OK, lets call it as it was–they were scared spitless that Joseph was now going to punish them for their actions of so many years ago.  It was obvious, that if Joseph had done that to them–well they would retaliate. What they still failed to perceive–was that God had charge of the entire plan and used the brother’s jealousy and hatred to bring about their ultimate safety.
 
Without a living and active faith, it would be impossible to see beyond the “coincidental” nature of the events.  Joseph saw it and praised God for using him to save lives.  He never gave it a second thought.   The brothers, conversely, could not consider anything else; and they feared for their lives each day–simply, because the faith to see beyond their individual choices and safety did not exist in their lives.  That is the incredible dichotomy between the world culture and the culture of people who live in relationship with God.
 
In our lives, the gauge that should be primary is the one that measures ones thoughts of self vs. one’s thoughts of others and God.  If one’s meter is stuck on self-preservation, self-adoration and simply self-absorption; then, like the brothers, that person will never know peace and courage. They will live in a world of fear and discontent–where things are never good enough or safe enough to really enjoy for an extended period of time.  If we focus on God and others, however, God will meet our needs, protect us, and prepare us for the mission he has planned.  On that mission, the trials will often leave one feeling alone and uncared for, but, in the end, those very trials will uniquely situate you to meet your challenges and save lives around you.  
 
In that realm, One neither has the time or desire to hold grudges or to seek retribution. The person is too focused on the mission and the needs of others to worry about petty revenge.  Check your gauge–which end of the meter do you fall.
 
God Bless You
 
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.