You’ve Got More Mail

Today’s Reading: 1 Peter 2

Dear Friends,

Maybe this will help you to trust in God through the difficult times. Think of God as building a spiritual temple. He chose Christ for the great honor of being the cornerstone of His temple. And how lucky are you?!!! You get to be the living stones God is using to build this spiritual temple.

Not only are you the stones, you are also His holy priest. Because Jesus Christ is mediating for you, you are able to offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. You shouldn’t be surprised at this analogy. Remember what the Old Testament Scriptures say:

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
Chosen for great honor,
And anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
– 1 Peter 2:6; Isaiah 28:16

“The stone the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” – 1 Peter 2:7; Psalm 118:22

“He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” – 1 Peter 2:8; Isaiah 8:14

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, but you are not like them. You were chosen by God to be a royal priest, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. He called you out of darkness into his wonderful light so that you can SHOW OTHERS THE GOODNESS OF GOD.

“Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”
– 1 Peter 2:10

As God’s people, find your identity in Him and not in this world. Remember that you are “temporary residents and foreigners” so KEEP AWAY from the worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then, even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

While you are in this world, you must show respect to all human authority for the Lord’s sake, for he has appointed them. They have been given a job to punish those who do wrong and honor those who do right – SO DO RIGHT! Live an honorable life, respect everyone and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Your honorable life will silence those who make foolish accusations against you. Don’t use your freedom as an excuse to sin.

So accept the authority of your bosses with all respect. Do what they tell you, whether they are kind and reasonable or cruel. God is pleased with you when you DO WHAT IS RIGHT and patiently endure unfair treatment. If you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God will be very pleased with you.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow his steps.

He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and LIVE FOR WHAT IS RIGHT.
By his wounds you are healed.
Once you were like sheep who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.
– 1 Peter 2:21-25

Are you ready to look to His example, to follow His steps? You may end up with wounds but He will be there to heal you by His wounds. You may feel lost in the chaos, but He will be your Shepherd, the Guardian of your soul.

Living under His authority because I am His,


You’ve Got Mail

Today’s Reading: 1 Peter 1

1 Peter is a letter written to God’s people who were living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (this region is now the country of Turkey). Peter knew they were experiencing hard times – trials and persecution for their faith. Their faith was scorned, their morality criticized and their hope mocked. This letter was sent to encourage them to remain faithful. As pressure increased, Peter challenged them to renew their commitment and live out their faith in order to please God and to be a witness to God’s work of grace in their lives.

Can you relate? Every year it seems like the battle against Christianity in the United States intensifies. Our faith is scorned, our morality criticized and our hope in Christ mocked. Let’s study Peter’s letter as if it was written to us just days ago. We open the mail today and there is a letter addressed to us from Peter. Perhaps this is what the letter might say (1 Peter 1:1-2:3):

Dear Friends,

Isn’t God good?! Isn’t God worthy of our praise this morning?! The God who knew you and chose you long ago (in fact, before you were even born) has given you His Spirit TO MAKE YOU HOLY. He has cleansed you by the blood of Jesus Christ and just keeps giving you more and more grace, along with a big dose of peace.

Because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, He has also given us the opportunity to be born again – all because of His GREAT mercy! Now we can live with great expectation of a priceless inheritance that He is keeping in heaven for us. Your inheritance is pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. Until the day comes when this inheritance will be revealed for all to see, God is protecting you through faith and by His power.

Did you hear that? God is protecting you, so be truly glad! I know you are going through lots of trials right now but there is a wonderful joy ahead. These trials are showing how genuine your faith in God is. Your faith is being TESTED just as fire tests and purifies gold. Your faith, which is even more precious than mere gold, is being STRENGTHENED and PURIFIED as you suffer through these hard times. And the result of your response is that you are bringing praise, glory and honor to Jesus Christ.

I know you have never actually seen Him but it is obvious you love Him. Though He is invisible right now, you trust him as if you can see Him. You rejoice with a joy that is glorious and inexpressible! The reward you will receive for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls. I hope this encourages you.

I know things are difficult right now, but think of how blessed we are. The prophets foretold of this great salvation – of the suffering of Christ and how He would be glorified – but it wasn’t for them to experience. They knew the messages were not for themselves but for us. They were filled with the Spirit and joined the angels in eager expectation of what was going to happen.

So, think about this. Think about this gracious salvation we have to look forward to when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. Exercise self-control and live as God’s obedient children. He chose you; He has prepared an inheritance for you – you are His! So don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. LIVE A HOLY LIFE because that’s what He desires – because He is a holy God. The Scriptures are clear when they say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

So, as “foreigners” in this world, remember that the inheritance you received from your ancestors was an empty life but God paid a ransom to save you – not a ransom of silver or gold but of the precious blood of Christ, our spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him as your ransom SO CHOOSE A HOLY LIFE. God will judge or reward you according to what you do – You can’t just get by on being His favorite.

So live in reverent fear of this holy God. Continue to trust in God through Jesus Christ. Because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory, you have placed your faith and your hope in God. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now show evidence of this cleansing through your sincere love for your brothers and sisters. Love each other DEEPLY with all your heart!

You have a new life that will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God! You have been born again! You no longer belong to the temporary things of this world so live for the eternal. Remember what the Scriptures say:

“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
But the word of the Lord remains forever.”
– 1 Peter 1:24

That word of the Lord the Scriptures are referring to is the same good news that has been preached to you. So live for the eternal and not for the temporary, no matter how strongly your faith is tested. Get rid of ALL evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.

Now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness – yes, all the blessings you have experienced are only a “taste” of what you will receive – crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Get hungry for it! Crave it! Seek it! Nothing else matters because nothing else will last forever. Keep this in mind no matter what difficulties you may face today.

Remember He loves you and you are His!

With sincere and deep love,


Finish Strong

Today’s Reading: 2 Timothy 2:15 – 4:22

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! – 2 Timothy 3:5

In Paul’s last letter, he speaks again of the holiness to which God has called each of us. He has given us the Holy Spirit, through whom we have the power to stop giving in to our sinful nature and start following the urgings of the Spirit. He warns believers not to live as if they have to sin, as if they cannot overcome sin. As we talked about yesterday, he calls us to recognize that the power of the cross is available to us today through the fire of the Holy Spirit.


In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. – 2 Timothy 2:20-26


God has a purpose for each one of our lives and the pursuit of righteousness is what keeps us ready to be used by Him, for His purpose, in His time, in His way. The captives are waiting for their release. Will you be faithful so that God can use you to change someone’s heart today?

But you must remain faithful to those things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teach us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:14-17

I love this scripture because it reminds me of the change that takes place in me each morning as I sit down with my Bible and my cup of coffee and spend precious time with my God. I am changed each day by His words I read on the page and His words I hear Him gently whisper. I don’t have to trust in my own ability to live a holy life but I can trust in Jesus to make changes in my heart and in my mind.

When I read a verse or passage that convicts me, I have a choice. I can say, “That’s me. I’m sinful and I mess this up every day. That’s just what I do.” Or I can say, “Lord, you know I need your help in this area. Teach me to do the right thing. Prepare me and equip me for every good thing you want to use me for today.” I use grace not as an excuse or explanation for my sin, but as the power to clean me up and make me a “utensil for honorable use.”

It is believed that this is the last letter Paul ever wrote. He speaks again of persecution, something he is experiencing first hand as he sits in a Roman prison cell waiting for what is certain to come – a death sentence from Emperor Nero.


So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord…With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News…Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution…But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling the Good News, and full carry out the ministry God has given you. – 2 Timothy 1:8; 3:12; 4:5

He puts in one sentence a summary of how he looks back at his life – a testimony that I pray I can give at the end of my life:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. – 2 Timothy 4:7

Paul goes on to speak of his eternal reward, knowing God has never abandoned him and will be there beside him, even if he is not rescued from physical death this time. His death will not mean defeat but simply completing the race and safely crossing over the finish line into the open arms of his Savior.

And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing…

The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen. – 2 Timothy 4:8-9, 16-18

Live Boldly

Today’s Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1 – 2:14


In Paul’s last letter, he seems to be passing on the mantle to Timothy and to the other young leaders in the Church. He knew he would die soon for the sake of the gospel and he wanted to encourage those who would still be around to continue the work – not in fear of persecution and death but with strength and power.

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:6-7


Paul used fire as an illustration of power. Have you ever watched a fire closely? We have all watched on the news as fire engulfed a car or a house or an entire community. Some fires are unquenchable and uncontainable. But if a fire runs out of what is fueling it, it will die out. The passion God places inside of us through His Holy Spirit is strong like a fire but also needs fueled or it will burn out. We have to purposefully keep the fire within us burning strongly.

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time – to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. – 2 Timothy 1:8-10


Paul gave Timothy the illustration of fire and the example of Christ Jesus. He contrasted shame and strength, showing that God has called us to live boldly – not defeated by sin but overcoming sin by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ died for us, which shows STRENGTH! Christ conquered death, which shows POWER! The strength Jesus displayed through His death and resurrection shines a light on the path before us that leads to life – eternal life through accepting the Good News of what Christ did for us on the cross.

That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.

Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me – a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you. – 1 Timothy 1:12-14


This kind of BOLD LIVING is required in order to guard the truth that has been entrusted to us – meant not to hold on to secretly but to share for the sake of multiplication.

Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. – 2 Timothy 2:1-2


Paul doesn’t promise Timothy that this life will come without troubles but he directs Timothy to the authority of the One he is following and the reward that comes to those who are willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation to others and eternal glory in Christ Jesus.

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor…

Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. – 1 Timothy 2:3-6,8-10

God, we ask for a refueling this morning of your Spirit in our lives. Fan the flame and fill us with the confidence we receive in knowing that Christ died for us and conquered death so that we might live. May we be soldiers, enlisted by you for the cause of Christ. May we be athletes who throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and may we run this race with perseverance. As hardworking farmers, help us to sow seeds for you so that others will grow and come to know of the salvation they can find in You. Amen.

But When God

Today’s Reading: Titus 3

If Paul’s letter to Titus had an overall theme, it would probably be a message of telling the Church to do what is good. The culture on the island of Crete was known for being lazy, gluttonous, dishonest and downright evil. Sometimes the culture of our society makes its way into the Church and flavors the relationships and attitudes of the believers. We have natural sinful tendencies from our sinful nature as well as from the environment we have grown up in. BUT WHEN GOD comes in and washes away our sins, he wants to make us into a new person who lives a new kind of life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to DO WHAT IS GOOD. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.

BUT – “WHEN GOD our Savior revealed His kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial to everyone. Titus 3:1-8

Aren’t you thankful for the work of the Trinity in our lives? We see all three at work in these verses and present in the redemptive process in our lives.

Because He is kind and He is loving, God saved us. He washed away our sins, giving us new birth into a new life, not because we deserved salvation but because of His mercy. And because of God’s grace, He declared us righteous so that we can have eternal life.

Redemption was made possible when Jesus Christ, God’s Son, willingly gave His life on the cross for us – for the sinful, undeserving, unrighteous world.

He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. – Titus 2:14

Holy Spirit
God generously poured His Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of this presence in our lives, we are continually renewed and strengthened to live a godly live – to do what is good.

So we were not saved only for our own benefit, for our own eternal prize. We were saved for the sake of spreading God’s message of grace and mercy to others. We were saved to serve God by serving the needs of others – within the church and within the community and around the world.

Last week at youth group, our teens did two service projects. They served the Church by clearing out the youth room and setting up tables for the big Thanksgiving dinner Sunday night. They also filled 160 bags with food to be passed out on Saturday morning to needy families in our community. Then several of them showed up on Saturday in the cold to help deliver the meals. Serving God by serving within the church and serving out in the community.

Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others, then they will not be unproductive. – Titus 3:14

We used to live selfish, unproductive lives. BUT WHEN GOD in His mercy chose to forgive us of our sins, we were reborn and called to a productive life. We were created for a purpose and it is time to live up to that purpose – to do what is good. But we cannot fall into the false thinking that our good works save us or cause God’s love for us to grow. This kind of thinking was present in the Church in Crete and present in our churches today.

Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. – Titus 3:9

Does this sound familiar? Paul gave the same warning to the Church in Ephesus in his letter to Timothy and also in his letter to the Philippians. When we get caught up in who is more spiritual than whom, or who God is more pleased with, we are not helping anyone. These kinds of meaningless conversations do not help anyone live a life of faith in God (1 Timothy 1:4). It is not about building a spiritual resume to try and impress others or God.

What helps us is to remember that we were lost sinners in need of a Savior, BUT WHEN GOD gave His Son to die for our sins out of His great mercy and love, we were given the chance at a new life – a life filled with the Holy Spirit so that good deeds can become a natural outflow of our existence.

Saved BY grace, saved FROM sin, and saved FOR good deeds – all for the glory of God and for the purpose of attracting others to their Savior, Jesus Christ!

What will flow from our lives today?

Attractive in Every Way

Today’s Reading: Titus 1-2

I am convinced after studying Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus that he was kind of a mix of evangelist, church planter and leader. He went from region to region sharing the message of Jesus Christ to which he had been called (evangelist). At times, revival would spread across that community and a new Church would begin (church planter). Paul would appoint leadership within the new body of believers and give them specific instructions on how the Church should conduct itself as the household of God (leader).

For the Church on the island of Crete, Paul had appointed Titus to a place of leadership. He gave him the responsibility of finishing the work Paul had begun, while appointing leadership (elders) in each town over every body of believers. He gave Titus specific instructions on what to expect from these appointed elders.

An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. An elder is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. – Titus 1:6-9

Paul insisted that the leaders in the Church must do more than claim to know God and know about God, they must show proof of this relationship in the way they live out their lives (1:16) – in their character and in their good deeds. But this kind of holy living is not just for pastors and leaders, it is for all who belong to the FAMILY of GOD – young and old.

As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.

In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.

Slaves must always obey their masters and do their best to please them. They must not talk back or steal, but must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior ATTRACTIVE in every way.

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. – Titus 2:1-14

The way we live our lives should help attract people to Jesus. We must turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. He died to free us from EVERY kind of sin, to wash us of all unrighteousness and to make us His own! His plan is for us to be TOTALLY COMMITTED to doing good deeds. And consistent with all of Paul’s letters, he again touched on the fact that we are saved by grace and not by works, but we are saved to do good works and live a holy life.

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7

Saved BY grace, saved FROM sin, and saved FOR good deeds – all for the glory of God and for the purpose of attracting others to their Savior, Jesus Christ!

Household of God

Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy 5 & 6

I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. – 1 Timothy 3:14-15

Church conduct is a major theme in Paul’s first letter to Timothy. We are the Church – the Church of the living God – and it matters how we behave and how we worship. We are God’s household, God’s family – a great thing to remember as we prepare our hearts for worship, as we bow on our knees to pray and as we build relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

PRAY for ALL people

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and GIVE THANKS for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase our freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave the world at just the right time. And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating – just telling the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:1-7

The reconciliation of God and humanity through the one man, Jesus Christ. What a powerful message God has given us to relay to everyone – a message about faith and truth. This message is for ALL people, for God wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth of the gospel. All people, even our political leaders. How often do we pray for the leaders and elected officials in our country? God is calling the church to pray for all people to hear this message of salvation.

WORSHIP freely

In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy. – 1 Timothy 2:8

Why do we go to church? Our hearts should be pure and we should go to church to worship God. But how often do we spend more time preparing our appearance for Sunday morning than we do preparing our hearts? How often do we harbor anger or stir up controversy instead of praying for each other and interceding for each other, giving thanks for each other?

And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. – 1 Timothy 2:9-10


We want the focus of our worship to be God and not others. In the same way, we want to be careful that we are not a distraction to others as they come to worship God – not in our appearance or in our words. Women, men are very visual and it is important that we dress in such a way as to make it easier for them to concentrate on what God has to say to them instead of distracting them and allowing the enemy to use our bodies to take their minds to a different place than worship.


Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. – 1 Timothy 5:1-3

Not only are we to take care of the widows, we are also instructed to take care of our pastors.

Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” – 1 Timothy 5:17-18

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Lord, purify our hearts and be pleased with our worship. Help us to always have our focus on YOU and your splendor instead of on others, instead of on ourselves. May we accept your call today and pursue righteousness, fighting the good fight with faith in YOU. Thank you for the spiritual gifts you have bestowed on us – may we never forget that these are gifts from YOU and not about what we are capable of doing for You. We love you and we lift up holy hands to worship You today! Amen.

Pursue His Righteousness

Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy 3 & 4

Paul has some great warnings for Timothy and for those in leadership in the church, not just in Ephesus but for the Church today.

1. Don’t get sidetracked from the mission and calling.

Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God. 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. But some people have missed the whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussion. – 1 Timothy 1:4-6

2. Know in your heart that you are right with God.

Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. – 1 Tim. 1:19

3. Live a life of integrity.

So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him…In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity…Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus. – 1 Tim. 3:2-13

4. Live a godly life.

Train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. – 1 Tim. 4:7b-10

5. Beware of the love of money.

To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. – 1 Tim. 6:5b-10

6. Run from evil and pursue righteousness.

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. – 1 Tim. 6:11-12

What great advice for us today. There are so many things this world would love to use to trip us up, so many ways in which the enemy would love to get our focus off of God and onto ourselves. He feeds us with all kinds of lies and temptations but we have a faith that fights for the truth! We aren’t weakly trying to defend ourselves from the enemy. We are strongly pursuing God and His righteousness and the holy life to which He calls us!

Lord, we enter into your presence with thanksgiving for the many ways in which you have blessed us. We pray for you to put a hedge of protection around those in leadership within the church, in our communities and in our nation. We pray you will strengthen each leader and give them wisdom when faced with temptations. Help them to discern the truth in the midst of lies and give them a desire to strongly pursue you! May we never pridefully focus on our own righteous leadership but daily look to YOU as the source of ALL righteousness and as the only way to live the holy life to which You have called us! Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving!!! I pray God blesses you and your family richly. May your hearts be filled with gratitude for ALL He has done and ALL He plans to do for you, in you and through you. God bless you!

Pursue His Plans

Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12 – 2:15

As we read through Paul’s letter to TImothy, we see a lot of instruction regarding church conduct. My prayer is that God will give us a word this morning as a church but also as individuals ready to learn from Him this morning.

As a woman called by God into leadership, I can take offense at some of what Paul says in his letter to Timothy. Take the following verses as an example, scripture the Church has used for years to define the role women should have in the Church.

Women, should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, holiness, and modesty. – 1 Timothy 2:11-15

We do not know what was going on in the Church in Ephesus at this time, but it is possible that Paul’s words were meant to correct a specific situation going on in the church. If we take these verses in context to Paul’s other letters, we are reminded that we are all ONE in Christ Jesus, no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female (Galatians 3:28).

Instead of feeling defensive, I find peace in knowing that God’s love for women is not matched by Paul’s directives to the Church in Ephesus, which speak to the culture of those days as well as to the life that still exists for women today in the Middle East. In fact, being reminded of my call this morning and being humbled by the incredible opportunities God has given me (me, who deserves none of these blessings), I find myself relating to Paul instead of arguing with him.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. – 1 Timothy 1:12-17

What a great opportunity to stop and consider what God has called us to do – what He has uniquely equipped each of us to do according to the spiritual gifts He has given us, male and female. Timothy was a young man called by God and Paul urged him to follow His calling in spite of the meaningless opinions of others around him. As a servant listens to his Master, so we should listen closely to our God and live as HE calls us to live – doing what HE tells us to do and saying what HE tells us to say.

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. – 1 Timothy 1:18-19a

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12-13

Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4:14-16

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed before many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:11-12

Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. May God’s grace be with you all. – 1 Timothy 6:20-21

Listen closely. What is God saying to you this morning? What does He have for you to do today, regardless of your age or gender? What words is He calling you to speak today? Hold tight to God, PURSUE HIS PLANS for your life and cling to your faith in Christ.

Pursue His Love

Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy 1:1-11

This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope. I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy and peace. – 1 Timothy 1:1-2

Paul is writing this letter to his coworker, Timothy, who is now serving in the church in Ephesus. Paul obviously holds Timothy in high regard. He has assigned him to the Ephesian church to help the believers grow in their faith and stay focused on the truth of the gospel during a time when false teaching is rampant. Paul expresses affection for Timothy, showing us he not only trusts him with this great responsibility but he also cares deeply for him. Let’s look back in Acts to see how Timothy and Paul met and how God used them in partnership for the sake of the gospel.

Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek. Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day. –Acts 16:1-5

From the start, Timothy’s calling was to the Church – to help them strengthen in their faith and grow, individually and as the body of Christ. Paul saw the potential in this timid young man and placed him in leadership. Timothy was highly respected by the church and deeply loved by Paul, who was now in prison and wishing he could give these words of advice in person instead of in a letter.

Notice Paul adds to his normal greeting. Instead of wishing Timothy grace and peace, Paul wishes him grace, mercy and peace.
Grace – May God give you unmerited favor, acceptance regardless of our guilt and sin – not favor we have earned but favor we have received out of God’s great love for us.
Peace – May God give you rest and tranquility in knowing you are His and that He has you in His care.
Mercy – May God have compassion on you in your time of need.

Timothy was facing trouble in the Church because of the false teaching that was popping up and distracting the believers from living a life of faith. Paul urges Timothy to stay right where he has been assigned and stop those who are teaching what is contrary to the truth (1:3-4). He has a new target for them to focus on in order to avoid the distractions – he tells them to make LOVE their target.

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. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions…

We know the law is good when used correctly. For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father and mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good news entrusted to me by our blessed God. – 1 Timothy 1:5-11

So what was their distraction? What were their meaningless discussions about? It seems from these verses that the believers in the Church were trying to make righteousness about following the law or a set of rules. But Christ died for a different kind of salvation – for believers to experience genuine faith in God and not in their own ability to live a good life; to have a clear conscience because of God’s grace and not because of their own good behavior.

Lord, help us as a Church to make LOVE our target instead of our own self-righteousness. Help us to keep our focus on the Good News of grace, mercy and peace instead of falling back into a mindset of legalism and rules. Remind us of what you have called each of us to do and help us to live a life of faith in YOU and not in ourselves. Reveal to us today what is distracting us from your purpose in our life. Identify every meaningless conversation we are participating in and help us to refocus on YOU. Lord, fill us with your love – the kind of love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience and genuine faith. We love you, Lord! Amen.