James 1 Part 2–God Simply Will Not Tempt His Own, So Live Accordingly

Flip Wilson used to do a bit…”The Devil made me do it!” Amazingly in the world of spiritual warfare, there is a great deal of truth in that statement. What will never be true is the comment “God made me do it.”  Not unlike most parents, James knew that our Heavenly Father would never push the children He loved to separate from Him. Sin separates men from God. So the God of the universe that gave His Son as a sacrifice to restore our relationships would not, in turn, tempt men to sin and separate from Him. James, Jesus’ brother, was a pastor of the church in Jerusalem. He was a later convert, but he was incredibly practical and cared greatly for his people and the Lord. He told them to understand trials and the blessing they can be in one’s life. He next told the folks not to confuse God’s sovereignty with man’s inclination to sin.
 
In addition, James makes clear that one should listen and be slow to anger. As one listens to God’s truth, we need to put that truth into practice.  Doing what God says is so much more critical than simply hearing it. If one can learn God’s word and practice it; we will become complete.  In a world that thrives on Instant this, and impulse that, James reminds us to step back, take a breath, and live as our Lord would.  We are not perfect; thank You, Lord, for Your grace. We must know that If we will listen, respond rather than react, and maintain a peaceful spirit–then God can work through us to effect change in our homes, communities, and world.  Please, Father, help me to realize You are with me and would never seek to tempt me or separate from me. Further, help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry!
 
God Bless You

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like

2 Timothy 4–The Proper Way to Finish

As Paul was wrapping up the letter to Timothy, He was not simply closing a personal letter, He was preparing his friend and ward for his personal end. Paul knew he would soon be executed. So as he closed, he gave Timothy and God’s chosen two final charges that should guide behavior and direct the steps of God’s people.  
 
First, start each day of ministry prepared for the battle that lies ahead. Paul told Timothy and he tells us–be prepared to share the gospel. Not just kind words that tickle the ears of those who would listen; but, preach the truth. That requires that one be prepared with the word hidden in their hearts. It also means that God’s people should be in prayer and committed to the opportunities to share the truth about knowing Christ and following Him closely. We must be ready to counter the arguments that its ok to believe whatever you want as long as you mean well.  That is what the enemy and the world would have us believe.  
 
Simply put, Christ says, ” Trust me and follow Me and I will give you eternal life.”  Romans 10: 9-10 says, “If we confess with our mouth that He is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Christ from the dead we will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”  It is simple, but it is difficult–God simply refuses to share His Lordship–He will be Lord, or he will stand down. That is why we confess and believe!
 
Finally, Paul tells Timothy Goodbye! He encourages his friend and gives us who are battle weary hope. Paul tells Timothy that he has fought the Good Fight, He Has finished the race and he has kept the faith. As a result, God holds for him a crown of righteousness that God will present Paul on that day. For us, Paul reminds us to fight, to finish and to keep the faith! We do not have to win the fight each day, sadly there are days we fail miserably. But, We must fight each day! 
 
Next, we must finish the race. God does not require a first-place finish, but, he does require that we do, in fact, finish the race! It is so tempting sometimes to simply give up. Imagine Paul in the dungeon, broken, blind, and abandoned. It would have been easy for him to give up. But, in that period, Paul produced great truth. Philippians, Romans, and these letters have guided millions to the kingdom. It is a great blessing for us all that Paul finished the race. We need to do the same. 
 
Finally, keep the faith! Paul says to hold on and do not give up on the Lord. The enemy will make life so difficult. If we succumb and lose our faith, it will remain difficult but we will lose our hope and love.  Those gifts are what carry us through. So we cannot lose the only thing that will allow us to endure.  I am personally grateful that God does and will provide us what we need to fight, finish and keep our faith–I cannot do it on my own. 
 
God Bless You
 

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Personal Remarks

Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 2 Part 1–Discipleship

One of the most critical parts of living the life of a Christian is passing what we have gained from the Lord on to others. Paul reminded Timothy to take what he had received and pass it to people who will, in turn, pass it to others.  Christ’s message is valuable and as we incorporate it into our lives, we are changed forever. That change comes from within and yields eternal fruit.  When we pass what we have learned to family, friends, and associates; they grow and change and become like Christ.  Then like the concentric, circles in a pond, the ripples move out and grow and ultimately change the world around them. 
 
In addition, As disciples, we incorporate disciplines into our lives that allow us to keep sin at bay. We then focus our attention on being the best workers, parents, and spouses we can be. That also is infectious and impacts our communities for the gospel.  We simply cannot give up or give in to the attacks of our enemy. Instead, we must cling to the hope set before us and conduct our lives in a manner worthy of our calling.  
 
God Bless You
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

I Timothy 6 Part 2–Fighting the Good Fight

Paul’s final command to Timothy was huge! As a man of God, run from evil and pursue righteousness. Fight the good fight!!! As General Patton would say, “This is war boys!!!” As Christ faced death, He stood firm and made no excuse.  Paul calls Timothy to do the same.  Face death and make a good confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Paul further reminds Timothy, let those in your group be God-focused and not focused on the material things. Let the rich worship God not their stuff; understanding God gave them what they have to enjoy and to be generous with others. Use the resources God gave to help others and honor God–by doing that one will lay up treasures in Heaven.
 
That reality is still the same.  This is war and as we march forward, we must do so with a righteous heart and a spirit focused on God. We live as warriors facing death every day.  We use all the resources we have been given to honor God.  We need to hold on loosely to the material things God has blessed us with.  Not fearing the enemy, but treating the enemy with righteous respect for the evil that he is, and the enemy’s focused desire to end us and our mission. if we will, then in God’s time He will lift us up. We will be the Lord’s ambassadors and will leave an impact and legacy for generations to come!
 
God Bless You

 But you, a man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

Grace be with you all.

I Timothy 4 Part 2–Stay Focused on the Mission

Paul reminded Timothy that his time and attention needed to be focused upon ministry–not on his concerns about what others thought.  Timothy was young and was certainly receiving pressure about his youth; as he taught in Ephesus.  This was a church that strong and growing. Paul led the church for some time. So, now as Timothy continued to lead it, many would argue that they deserved better.  Paul was clear–do not fall into that trap. simply focus upon the mission and continue to fight forward leading and training the church and using the spiritual gifts God provides.
 
In the present culture, there are countless obstacles and excuses to take one’s eyes off of the Lord. If our focus strays form ministry and mission, then we can be undermined by criticism from others or even by our own fears and baggage.  Paul reminds us, as he did Timothy, that our focus needs to remain on the Lord, and His mission for our lives. Our perceptions, weaknesses, and fears are his to control. We need simply focus on Him as we move forward.  Paul summed it up well in Colossians 3:1-2, “Set your heart on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things!”
 
We must focus on walking and leading! Then He will use us and we will experience an amazing journey.
 
God Bless You

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.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

I Timothy 4 Part 1–Spiritual Fitness

Paul reminded Timothy to be on guard for false teachers.  These leaders promote very structured and sacrificial lives for their congregants and yet, have no desire to follow the codes they espouse. They promise the world in exchange for being treated like royalty; but in reality, they intend to deliver nothing.  Paul urged Timothy to stand up to such teaching and to the leaders that make their fortunes promoting it.  
 
In addition, Paul reminds Timothy to remain spiritually fit.  Paul does not diminish the value of physical discipline, but, wants Timothy to note that spiritual fitness is more important. Its importance lies in the eternal nature of the outcome.  Our physical health is as temporal as life itself. The spiritual fitness is preparation for the eternal.  We need to think eternally, live eternally and act eternally.  We can never be afraid to press on to take hold of the Spirit’s teaching, leading and comfort.
 
In short, we have to make the main thing, the main thing. We cannot lose sight of what God has taught and promised.  We have to live our lives focused on becoming like Christ and honoring Him in the way we work, the way we act, and in the way we live!
 
God Bless You

 The Spirit clearly says that 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.

I Timothy 3 Part 1–Desire to Lead

Leadership is critical in any organization.  In the body of Christ, the character of a leader is as critical as the leader’s skills and gifts. Paul told Timothy to do a careful search of the character of church leaders. They must live Godly lives, have a noble character, display restraint, gentleness amicability and have families that do the same. Are leaders supposed to be perfect? In Paul’s mind, he knew no leaders–especially himself, were perfect. But, due to the scrutiny and the importance of the role, Leaders need to be a cut above.
 
In our society, we have forgotten that character is often what distinguishes great leaders. Our culture looks at wealth, celebrity, charisma and social status as the hallmark of great leaders. In spite of that, there are many folks of amazing character that rise to the tops of their field and remain unassuming, noncontroversial and humble.  They work hard and are extremely gifted, but see leadership as a wonderful honor; one not to be taken lightly.  They have a lasting influence on those that they lead, and they are recognized and remembered for their legacy and character–not their title and wealth.  God calls his leaders to be servants, He prepares them, promotes them and uses them to shape the church and the community to become like Him.  Thank you, servant leaders, and thank You, Lord, for providing them.
 
God Bless You

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 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. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 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.