1 Timothy 1:1-11 – Issues of Faith

Read 1 Timothy 1:1-11

This is a book was written by Paul as encouragement to one of his closest companions.  Timothy was a young Christian leader in Ephesus, and Paul was a bit of a father figure to him.  While written to help Timothy discern issues facing the early church, the wisdom speaks to us as well.  I’m going to focus in on verse 5. The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” 

Paul’s words here are clear as to Timothy’s mission, and I think we should see it as our missions as well.  While it sounds simple enough, it is also very difficult. Let’s unpack that a bit.  We, by nature, are so pulled by society and often drawn to darkness. We might not even realize this deception is happening to us.  To have a “pure” heart becomes a struggle. What does that even mean, a “pure” heart?  

If we are true to ourselves, having a clear conscience is also fleeting, unless we truly focus on the truth and rid ourselves of the evil and folly that surrounds us, that is trying to devour us.  The evil one is crafty and he uses many means by which to tempt us to leave behind our destiny. We too often shut ourselves off from a life of faith and the enjoyment a pure heart and clear conscience can bring.  To be right with God.  

What does living of a life of faith in God look like these days? Take some time today to reflect on how you are living out your faith.

Let’s pray.  Lord help us to discern the evil around us that is ready to deceive our hearts.  Help us to stand strong against those false teachers and pray for them.  Thank you for the encouragement you send to us in your word.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 30

Read Psalm 30

God is always faithful.  This psalm is full of praise but it also speaks of a time when the psalmist felt as if God had turned away.  When things are going well, it is easy for us to have confidence in our own ability, push forward leaving God behind.  This does not please God. The psalmist experienced this very thing it appears.

But we know that God does not run from us, he is always there.  Can you recall a time when you felt invincible?  How long did those feelings last? I can, and I can probably also confess that I forgot who was in charge.  It is in these times, when we forget who is in control, that plans can fail.  If they are not God’s plan, and we try anyway, it is likely our plans will not succeed.

This is a good reminder to stay focused on praise, and on following God’s will for us so we will not feel abandoned. After all, his will is perfect.  If we walk in his path for us, we should not have to cry out for rescue as the psalmist does here.  Can you recall a time when you cried out to God, feeling like you were stuck? I can, and as I recall how that all played out, God’s plan for me was so much better than I could have dreamed.

This psalm has snipets of song lyrics that are familiar, yet I cannot “name that tune”.  Can you help me?  “Joy comes with the morning” and “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.”  What song is that from? Joy–the byproduct of living in close communion with God.  Who wouldn’t want that?

What areas of your life are you still holding on to?  How can you sense God’s plan for you?

Let’s pray.  Lord, thank you for all you have done for me.  For protecting me from my adversaries and delivering me to a stress-free environment. What great people you have placed in my life, and I pray for each one that they will know you and follow your plan for their life as well.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 29

Read Psalm 29
God is powerful.  God is mighty.  This psalm speaks of that awesome power and how it is found/revealed in nature.  Some great images paint the scene for us!  God’s “voice”, as it were, personifying his
majesty into something we can relate to.  I’ve never quite understood the word picture regarding “mountains skipping like a calf” or “leaping as a young bull.”  What do you think that is about? The other forces of nature (God), such as lightening bolts, earthquakes, floods, now those are more familiar.  But under God’s control, they are mighty and seem uncontrolled.

I love how this psalm ends, “the Lord gives his people strength.  The Lord blesses them with peace.”  On the one hand we’ve been relishing the greatness of God’s power and might, standing back saying, “Wow, way to go, God.”  Then the tables turn and we see that same power and might is given to us, to strengthen us and give us peace.  Certainly there is peace knowing the power of God is ours.  Take a moment to just close your eyes and ponder that truth.  Did you feel it, the rush of peace flowing around you?  If you didn’t take another moment to thank God for his mighty power in your life.

Next, ask yourself, “what are the areas of my life that are causing me angst or concern?”  “Where do I need God’s strength to bring me peace?”

Let’s pray.  Lord, just as I am finding a niche in this world, give me your strength and wisdom to shine for you.  Forgive me when I try to fix the brokenness around me, I know it is out of my control.  Crush any doubt I have so that I can truly walk in your will.  Thank you for sharing your mighty power with me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Psalm 28

Read Psalm 28

The psalmist is crying out in despair, a common theme in the psalms.  As the prayer book of the Bible, it is understandable that the writers would pour out their hearts to God, just as we do in our prayer and conversation with God.  Here, however, there is a vengeance in his tone toward his adversaries.  We see that in other psalms, too, but today these words jump out to me, “Give them a taste of what they have done to others.”  The psalmist relying on God to make it right, not taking it on himself to “get even”.

Can you think of a time where you may have said, “they need a taste of their own medicine”?  Isn’t that kind of what the psalmist is saying here? Maybe there is somebody right now bothering you to the point that you can truly relate to the psalmist’s cry.

Maybe it will be more productive to focus on ourselves, and how we can be better, not wishing the worst for those who plan evil against us or those around us.  It saddens me that so many people are lost, evil minded, oppressive, dwelling on the negative.  How sad for them to not know joy, peace and positive thoughts.

I suppose the upcoming presidential transition comes to mind as we as a nation are tending toward negativity.  No matter who has been elected to office, I think it is time for everyone to accept it (not necessarily like it) but to get on our knees and pray to God for guidance for our leaders.  We need to remember that it is our Lord God whom we trust, and in his strength we live.  (Sorry for the political reference here…)

We need to rejoice tat God has delivered us from our prisons.  Over the years, I have found myself in chains, and as I look back at those times, God, not me, was the one who showed mercy and helped me find a way out.  Can you recall a time in your life where you felt stuck, perhaps isolated from God?

If you’re like me, I’m ready to burst out in song to praise God for his continued grace, mercy and deliverance.

Let’s pray.  Thank you God for always knowing what’s best for me.  I pray for wisdom for our leaders that they may listen to your counsel.  For those who stand against me, I pray they know your peace and joy.  Lord, use me today to make a difference for you.

Psalm 26

Read Psalm 26

I don’t know about you, but I need to ponder this one a bit more than others. Perhaps I am a bit distracted.  I have just had grandchildren visiting, and now the stillness invades my soul once again yet my mind races back to the gleeful giggles and attention getting tugs on my hand to play.  In the stillness,  I am hearing bird chirping, children playing on the playground in the distance.  The sunshine is calling my name.  God’s beauty to behold.

Back to my reflections on this psalm.  I’m struggling with this – how can we make disciples if we are to avoid liars, hypocrites, evil doers and the wicked?  Aren’t they exactly our target audience, those who truly need a savior?  Perhaps the difference here is in semantics and what it means to be “with them” as opposed to being “one of them”.  Jesus himself spent tie with sinners and that caused many to question him and his motives.  I think the fear for many is in the association, that we might somehow get in trouble, be judged unjustly, or even become like them.  If we avoid them, we avoid all the risk.

The vain culture we live in tends to be so judgmental, and that can lead to fear.  On the other hand, we live in a time of tolerance, and things which would have raised eyebrows in the past no longer do, and those that continue to stand by their convictions are oftentimes ridiculed or bullied. I personally fear weakness and succumbing to the evil or sin.  I need to remember God’s promise of deliverance from temptations too great.  It becomes our attitude then and our focus.  This focus needs to always be on Jesus.  His strength is sufficient.  But we can’t let fear keep us from opportunities to further the kingdom, so long as that is our true motivation.  We must be ready to publicly take a stand for Jesus, even if it is not popular.  We must be bold and confident, in Jesus we have our strength.

So, how do you look for opportunities to witness?  Make a bold move today and share something about Jesus without someone you don’t know.

Let’s pray.  Father, thank you for your provisions to rescue us when temptations are great.  Help me to see where you want me to stand for you today (and everyday).  In  Jesus’ name.  Amen.