“…..so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.”
1 Timothy 1: 18b-19
1 Timothy 1: 18-20
Imagine that you are in the mountains in heavy fog or aboard a boat asea or on a large lake in the same situation. You are having to rely on your compass to direct you. Your compass can be trusted but it takes an effort to follow its direction especially if your own sense of direction is telling you a different route. Your compass will be even more effective if before the fog came down you knew your position.
Now translate this to life and faith. For compass read conscience and for the foggy situation read the conflicting and confusing realities of life. Paul has been encouraging Timothy to ensure the Church stays with the truth of God’s Word and Law holding to the Gospel in Christ. He has listed the behaviours that are contrary to this truth and has urged Timothy to command the individuals not to teach such falsehood. As we reach the conclusion of this Chapter there is personal encouragement for Timothy; stay the course hold on to your faith. His conscience will assist acting as a compass giving direction in line with God’s Word and the Gospel. His faith in Jesus Christ and God’s Word will be his anchor in the storms of life. This anchor is grounded in the rock of Jesus Christ. When those storms come it will be well for Timothy to know where he stands with Jesus; this will put him in a stronger position to face what lies ahead. As Paul warns though faith is a battle. Times can be confusing and the old nature working within coupled with the principalities and powers opposed to God make for trials of faith.
The application for us is clear. There will be times where we feel lost in a confusing fog of different explanations for life and demands of society. Storms will come our way, this is a reality of life. God has given us His written Word and He has blessed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit, both will guide us in life and enable a ‘good conscience.’ Our faith, founded in Christ, will keep our eyes fixed on God. Faith though needs to be exercised to be strong just like any muscle within our bodies. Working at our relationship with God and our place in His Church is therefore essential. When storms come we will know where we stand, when other false doctrines are suggested we will know the answer. Standing in Christ, in His Church, will help us to avoid the shipwreck of our faith.
To Ponder: God changes our being to be more Christlike as we grow in our relationship with Him. Our being directs our doing, our doing if in obedience produces assurance. What steps can you take to remain strong in faith with a good conscience and therefore overcome in the battle of faith?
Prayer; Lord as we face the storms of life and battle in a fog of understanding grant us by your grace a good conscience and strong faith. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to hold fast to Jesus Christ and in doing so to reveal your love and truth to others to the glory of your Name. Amen
Praise: Will your anchor hold
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQQO8v-0VBo
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvLxZEU02uI
“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 1: 14
1 Timothy 1: 12-17
Sometimes we witness an occurrence or behaviour (in person or through the media) that seems so unbelievably abhorrent that we ask ourselves, “How can a person do that?” There are times also that we are equally disgusted or disappointed with ourselves. As a Police Officer and in my Priestly role (far more the former) I have dealt with people who had committed atrocious acts. In the main though, when interacting with them, the phrase, ‘there but by the grace of God go I,’ would resound in my mind and heart; it was easy to see how many of us could end up in the same situation given different life situations and choices. In our passage today Paul describes himself as the worst sinner (vs. 15-16), recalling his past violence, unbelief in Christ and persecution of others (vs. 13). The truth of Romans 3: 23 is plain to see, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
How tragic if this was the end story for the human race! BUT NO the answer to our lost state comes in vs. 14, God pours out His grace, faith and love in Christ Jesus ABUNDANTLY. Paul then gives one of his ‘trustworthy sayings,’ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (vs. 15)! Paul, on the road to Damascus (Acts 9: 1-31), intent on further persecutions, met the Lord Jesus Christ; his life was changed for ever. Repentance, in addition to its normal sense, means to turn and go the other way. Paul literally did an ‘about turn’ in life as he repented, received forgiveness by God’s Grace and grew in an incredible faith soaked in the love of Jesus. This is the grace filled salvation God gives in Christ.
So be encouraged my friends, no matter our state there is a way to forgiveness and new life, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8: 35). Paul’s past was a motivation for him to love and obey God as he saw and understood the abundant grace poured out upon him. More than that though, he realised that he had been chosen, trusted, appointed and empowered for service (vs. 12). Imagine as well as being forgiven to have such purpose and joy in life. Well, stop imagining, open your arms and receive God’s abundant Grace then live a life of purpose in the service of His Kingdom. Sing with Paul in real praise, “Now to the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen,” (vs. 17)
N.B. Praise Him in these words with the hymn selection today, see below
To Ponder: Not forgiving others or ourselves can blight life and lead to bitterness that becomes engrained; joy and peace are lost. Do you know the freedom that God’s forgiveness brings, do you in Him need to forgive others or yourself? How does today’s reflection help, what are your next steps?
Prayer; Most merciful God we confess to you, before the whole company of heaven and one another. That we have sinned in thought, word and deed, and in what we have failed to do. Forgive us our sins, heal us by your Spirit and raise us to new life in Christ. Amen
Praise: Immortal, invisible, God only wise – links to 1 Tim. 1: 17
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c59R-Ry8q50
Amazing Grace, my chains are gone
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbe7OruLk8I
The writer of Chronicles needed to explain the failure of Israel as a kingdom. So the writer started and ended his narrative by describing the unfaithfulness of Israel’s rulers:
So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord. He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium. (1 Chronicles 10:13)
Likewise, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful. They followed all the pagan practices of the surrounding nations, desecrating the Temple of the Lord that had been consecrated in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 36:14)
Over and over again, Israel’s prophets, priests and the people became more and more unfaithful. God’s people longed for someone to rule over them who would not chase after idols, who would persevere in loving God’s law, who would rule with righteousness that would last. But of course no human has the power to be that faithful.
That’s why we need Jesus. He is the faithful leader that people of God have always longed for. In fact, at the end of history, in the book of Revelation, Jesus is called by the name – Faithful. “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war” (Revelation 19:11).
Jesus is faithful even to those who are repeatedly unfaithful to him. “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). But he also empowers us by his Spirit to become faithful like he is. “The fruit of the Spirit is…….faithfulness” (Galatians 5: 22). It’s his faithfulness at work in us that will allow us to enjoy hearing Him one day say to us: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21). And when we doubt that this will ever happen, we remember, “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5: 24).
How great is thy faithfulness of our God!
Prayer – Faithful and True, I am holding on to your promise that you will keep me strong to the end so that I will be blameless on the day when you bring everything into the light. How I long to hear your “well done” on that day. It’s your Spirit at work in me that makes me confident that day will surely come. Lord, help me to be more faithful to you.
Song: Great is thy Faithfulness
“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly……and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which He entrusted to me.”
1 Timothy 1: 8, 10b-11
1 Timothy 1: 8-11
Jesus said that He had come not to replace the law (and prophets) but to fulfill it (Matthew 5: 17); so what does Paul mean in this short passage and how does the law link to the Gospel? To help answer these questions it would be good to try and understand the culture of the day, the situation that Paul was addressing, by looking at the list of ills he recorded. Taking some of the items on this difficult list and unpacking the Greek translation here are some examples that will give us a sense of the times: the lawless, those who know the law but break it openly; the undisciplined, those who refuse to obey authority; the irreverent, those who positively and actively practice irreligion; the immoral, linked to the temple of Aphrodite vice, prostitution and sexually immoral behaviour was rife within the society; and slave traders, the possible translation here is that of slave kidnappers a greater evil within this diabolical business.
The Law clearly identifies against such behaviour; simply comparing the list against the Ten Commandments demonstrates this reality. Behaviour that contradicts God’s Law also contradicts the sound doctrine of the Gospel (vs. 10-11), so as the Gospel is embraced the law is not to be contradicted. As John Stott says, “There is no antithesis (opposition between two matters) between law and Gospel in the moral standards they teach; the antithesis is in the way of salvation, since the law condemns, while the Gospel justifies.” What the Gospel does through Jesus Christ is enable the believer to be made right with God in order that the righteous requirement of the Law may be fulfilled. Then the presence of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer empowers obedience to the law Jesus in Christ.
Therefore the glorious Gospel (vs. 11) is the amazing Good News of forgiveness for sins past and power to overcome in the present and future. God’s mercy and grace cleanses the repentant believer. This Good News comes from God, it has been revealed and is not man-made; it is truth and power. Finally it has been entrusted to us, the Good News is to be shared. Such is God’s love for us! The motivation for the believer then is that sin does not only break the law but God’s heart. Our obedience to the law comes not from fear of it or of judgement but from the fear of disappointing Christ’s love and of grieving the Father. So it is not the law of God that constrains us but the love of God within the power of the Gospel; love fulfills the law.
To Ponder: Compare the list in today’s reading with what you see in our society and culture today; what contravenes God’s laws? How can the Gospel help to confirm truth and empower obedience motivated by God’s love?
Prayer; Almighty Lord and everlasting God, we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of your laws and the works of your commandments; that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Alternatively pray through Psalm 51
Praise: How He loves us
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzfPHnoT0-0
Love Divine all loves excelling
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGGcqhKShQ8
“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
1 Timothy 1: 5
1 Timothy 1: 3-7
In today’s passage Paul urged Timothy to command ‘certain men’ not to teach false doctrines nor to devote themselves to myths and genealogies (vs. 3-4). At that time some literature was being circulated that rewrote sections of the Old Testament with embellishments and additions. Gnosticism was also impacting the early Church (we see this issue behind warnings in the Epistles and fourth Gospel). Gnosticism did not hold to the biblical teaching on creation; matter was imperfect, an evil thing, so a good God could never have made it. The Gnosticism emphasised personal spiritual knowledge over the doctrines and authority of the Church and became concerned with myths and genealogies. The result was that some wandered away from the truth and took part in meaningless talk; the teachers appeared confident but were in fact ignorant (vs. 6-7).
The motive behind Paul’s command is love (vs. 5). If we unpack this verse we see a reverse order: faith, by God’s Grace and our repentance, begets a clear conscience which precipitates a pure heart. Love flows out from a pure heart as God’s love flows in. Faith has its origins in believing the truth of God; His Gospel. We are justified through faith by God’s Grace (Ephesians 2: 8), this leads to a clear conscience (Romans 8: 1 & 30) and a pure heart. The believer is now a new creation with an enlightened heart (2 Corinthians 5: 17; 1: 22; & 4: 6). In this new life love becomes the driving force in a cycle of blessing where fear and guilt are driven out (1 John 4: 18). Take away truth though and all collapses like a house without foundation; Jesus is the truth and the cornerstone on which all stands.
False doctrines exist today where God’s Word is embellished or added to. There are many alternatives to His truth and the promulgators appear confident in their assurances. I am convinced that many who hold to such views are motivated by a form of love. Indeed we are commanded to love God, our neighbour and ourselves but we are also to love in deed and in TRUTH (1 John 3: 18). To love outside of truth is to love in an ineffective way that may inadvertently keep people away from the loving relationship with God that we have been created for. Truth’s goal is love and that love is found in reconciliation with God our Father through faith in Jesus Christ (the truth, Colossians 1: 19-20).
To Ponder: Consider an issue that you are unsure about; is it line with God’s truth or may it be a false doctrine? Test this matter against the truth of faith, does it come from God? Then test it against love; does it promote unity in God’s Church? Teaching that is of God’s truth will always stand on Jesus Christ, promote God’s Glory and edify the Church
Prayer; Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Praise: Come my way my truth my life
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzJNdXOHLIU
One way Jesus
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7IQvg6VSNI
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour 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.”
1 Timothy 1: 1-2
Over the next weeks (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) I want to encourage us through the first letter of Timothy. Today I’d like to prepare us for this journey and explain why I think this would be beneficial for us. Firstly, I believe that God’s Word is truth, always relevant and a blessing, secondly this letter speaks into our culture, society and situation and therefore is not only applicable but valuable; let me explain why:
The letter is written by Paul the Apostle to Timothy. There is some debate that Paul may not have actually written the letter but at the time it was written (50-100AD), it was quite common for someone to write in another’s name (this does not answer all the questions but is as far as I will go in a short blog). That said the relationship between Paul and Timothy is very clear. Paul had just been released from prison and had discovered that leaders in the Ephesian Church were distorting the message of Jesus Christ and promoting the philosophies of the day; they were also forbidding certain practices such as marriage. Paul sent his co-worker to the Church with this letter expecting it to be shared with the Church as a whole. This letter, the second one and Titus are known as the Pastoral letters because they instruct Timothy and Titus in their Pastoral duties and also the Church in her ministries. This first letter covers subjects such as: truth and false teaching; public worship; leadership; social responsibility; material possessions; and of special importance and focus the leadership of Jesus Christ.
We live in a time where some argue that there is no absolute truth; that so-called truth is subjective and conditioned by culture. Each person can have their own truth which others should respect. If we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us this letter will speak God’s Word into our lives on this matter in relation to the topics listed above. The letter is also very helpful because its recipient, Timothy, is an individual we can empathise with. He is a real person like us who is shy and needs affirmation and encouragement (2 Tim. 1: 7). He suffers with ill health (1 Tim. 5: 23) and struggles with being respected due to his age (1 Tim. 4: 12).
So, let us prepare our hearts, minds and wills for what God is going to reveal to us from His word.
To Ponder: I would encourage you to read the whole letter over the weekend so that the contents begin to sit in your mind where the Holy Spirit can commence His work. Perhaps as an initial question consider why Paul addresses Timothy in these opening verses as ‘my true son in the faith?’
Prayer: Lord we simply ask that you prepare our hearts, minds and wills to receive your grace, mercy and peace through your Word that we may respond in faith, obedience, freedom and joy. Amen
Praise: Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6LC8cu03Ig
he book of Haggai contains a series of messages from the Lord delivered to his people after the Exile. Many of them had returned to Jerusalem. They planned to rebuild their destroyed temple, but they got sidetracked fixing up their own homes. Through His prophet Haggai, God encouraged a change in priorities: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” (1:4) The people then began to restore God’s Temple, but they soon realized with great sadness that it would never be as glorious as Solomon’s Temple had been. So God sent another message, assuring that He would once again fill His Temple with His glory:
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: in just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (2:6-7)
How was this prophecy fulfilled? When did or will this shaking come? Like so many of the Old Testament prophecies, it is being fulfilled in stages, with a partial fulfillment in the coming of Jesus and a final fulfilment yet to come.
By the time Jesus began his ministry, Herod had rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. And the Lord did indeed fill his Temple with His glory just by Jesus stepping into it and beginning to teach.
But this was not the end of the shaking or the ultimate filling with glory that God had in mind. Jesus predicted another shaking of the Temple that would come when He was crucified. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” …. When Jesus said “this temple, He meant his own body” (John 2:19, 21).
And we know there is more shaking and more filling with glory to come. That glory will be the reality we live in for all eternity in heaven. John described his vision of heaven, saying, “I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22).
Prayer – Jesus, shaker of the heavens and the earth, shake me from my complacency so I will strengthen my grip on you for the final shaking. I worship you with holy fear and awe. Thank you for giving me the undeserved gift of a place in your unshakable Kingdom.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5: 1
Luke 19: 41-44; Philippians 4: 6-7
On Monday we considered how we can deal with life’s challenges by standing firm in Jesus Christ. Today I’d like just to remind us why Jesus is that source of peace (and strength). If we go back a short period in time from our reading in Luke on Monday we will find today’s passage. Jesus is entering Jerusalem in a triumphant fashion but is deeply emotional, weeping over the state of the city’s population (vs. 41). His anguish is the result of the people’s failure to recognise Him as the way of peace (vs. 42); this will bring about Christ’s death and later resurrection. Jesus then foretells the destruction of the temple, which he again reiterated in Monday’s passage; this disaster occurred because they had not understood that Jesus was God incarnate in their midst (vs. 43-44).
The failure of God’s people to recognise Jesus for who He is, is the failure of many today. True peace comes from having peace with God; this comes from a right relationship with God. The people of Jerusalem were in a situation of occupation, they faced persecution and trouble ahead; they could not find peace in the face of oppression. They knew of ‘shalom,’ a state of peace, harmony and wholeness through God but they did not recognise its basis in and through Jesus Christ. Christ’s subsequent death and resurrection has become for us the foundation of peace with God. He has paid our price and paved the way of peace for us to His and our Father. Romans 5: 1 reminds us that if we repent and believe in Him, in grace God justifies us and so we have peace with God. This is why Jesus is the source of our peace; a truth well worth remembering!
As well as bringing us peace with God Jesus can bring the peace of God into our lives. Our verses in Philippians encourages us to pray with that same faith in the many and wonderful forms of prayer open to us. The result is that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
These are truths that you may well know and believe; they are worth meditating upon to prevent familiarity reducing their power. May we all know peace with God and the peace of God in and through Jesus Christ.
To Ponder: How might Jesus bring peace to your life today; which form will it take?
Prayer: Pray through Psalm 103 as a means of praise filled prayer that will remind you of God’s blessings and enable His peace in your life
Praise: My Peace
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls01XGV7oA0
Peace, Be Still
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBzg4B3_yS8
Reading: Matthew 6:19-34
When I was fresh out of high school, I worked at a children’s Bible camp, which also happened to be a ranch. One day we were trying to teach the kids how to direct their horses with their weight and posture. An egg was placed on the ground and the kids were tasked with walking their horse over the egg to break it. When the rider looked worryingly down at the egg, their weight shifted in the saddle and the horse would move away from the egg, missing it completely. But when the rider looked straight ahead and rode toward the egg without looking directly at it, the egg made a satisfying “crack” as it crushed beneath the horse’s hoof. The gaze of the rider had a direct impact on the path of the horse.
In Matthew 6, we are told that the eye is the lamp of the body. If our eyes are good, our whole body will be full of light, but if our eyes are bad, our bodies are full of darkness. So, the eye, our vision, plays a significant role, impacting the rest of our bodies and this means we ought to be both careful and intentional about where we fix our gaze. I find it particularly meaningful that this nugget of wisdom is squished into the context of a particularly rich section of scripture.
Jesus has just told his listeners that, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He is encouraging them not to be materialistic, desiring to accumulate worldly wealth. Having the wrong focus equals choosing the wrong path: if a person desires to be rich and seeks after worldly wealth and material possessions, they will completely miss finding that which is of true worth—the immaterial treasures of heaven.
So what are these otherworldly treasures? Scripture teaches us that we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10) We are to work at these things as if we were working for the Lord and not for men, and he promises, “You will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward…” (Col 3:24).
But it’s not just about doing these good works to gain a reward some day, it’s about the gift and treasure of knowing our Father God and having relationship with him, knowing our identity as his children. When we recognize how valuable we are to him and we set our eyes on our King and his Kingdom, we can be assured he will give us all that we need to fulfill the calling and purpose for which he made us. In contrast, worrying about our wealth or well-being, having a distracted focus, much like those kids looking down at that egg, is a sure way to miss the mark in terms of walking in our God-given destiny.
With all the tumultuousness of the last 7 months of this worldwide pandemic, are we seeing our values, the way we spend our time, our relationships, the way we work and do business, the way we live our lives, differently than we would have a year ago? We know the saying, “hindsight is 20/20”. In the global reset of the Year 2020, we have been given the opportunity to stop and reflect and re-calibrate back to clear 20/20 vision.
So what are you looking at? What distractions have gotten in the way of you enjoying your relationship with Father God? Are you confident you are walking in the purpose he has for you? What is one thing you can do today to gain more clarity about the direction your life is heading?
Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes on Jesus
Give Us Clean Hands
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4: 16
Luke 21: 5-19
How do we cope in a crisis? What is our reaction in difficult times and what is our source of strength. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Archbishop William Temple (a very appropriate surname for a man of the cloth!) said, “Religion is what you do with your solitude.” In others words our true self comes out when no one else is around so our faith is clearly seen. We can argue from these wise words that when challenge comes our true character may well be revealed and our faith shown for what it is.
So how does Jesus, the wisdom of God, counsel us for such times? In our Luke reading Jesus is warning of difficult times ahead and of His return. There is dialogue over how His words apply to the imminent destruction of the temple in His day and to His return. It is most likely both/and rather than either/or. This discussion though is not today’s focus. The principles He teaches are; these are both applicable to His disciples then and His disciples today. I would like to highlight three such truths:
These truths, and the passage as a whole, remind us that all is not dependent on us; His power, provision and presence equip us to stand firm in the face of challenges. The throne of Grace is there for us to approach and bow before to receive all that we need. The literal translation of this verse (Hebrews 4: 16) is that God’s Grace, His provision, is well-timed. So when we face times of challenge we are to stand on the truth of Jesus Christ, our solid foundation and rock, our faith will be shown for what it is and God will provide the Grace we need.
To Ponder: What times of challenge have you faced or are you facing right now? How do Jesus’ directions to witness, not worry and stand firm help? Focus on His provision and presence in prayer and know the difference He makes
Prayer: Lord Jesus in our trials and temptations enable us to come before you to seek your grace. In our renewed confidence take away our fears and help us to be true witnesses to your love, standing firm in faith and so giving glory to our Father. We ask this in and through your name. Amen
Praise: On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GswGE6rQhmE
Your Grace is enough
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpYtYYaTFGQ
Incumbent at St Aidan's Anglican Church,