Category: Pauline epistles–BibleTrekToday

Faith in action produces progress!

Scripture reading for July 14th: 2nd Chronicles 15-16, 1st Kings 16, Philemon

Philemon 3-7 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”

Paul’s short letter to Philemon, a believer in Jesus, whose run-away slave had been saved in prison with Paul, encouraged him to receive Onesimus back as a brother in the Lord. As Paul began his letter, he shared how encouraged he was by the reports that Philemon was showing love and sharing his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ with all the saints. Paul prayed that as Philemon shared his faith, he would grow in the full knowledge and understanding of every good thing that he possessed in his relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul also shared how he was now appealing to him to willingly receive this former run-away slave back as a brother, willingly and without compulsion. God’s transformation would be a blessing!

Philemon 14-16 “But I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother–especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for this example of transformation of a run-away slave to a brother in Christ! That reflects my life and many others. What grace You have given me! And to Philemon, You gave a gentle appeal to forgive and restore this slave as a brother! Help me today to cooperate with You in restoring those You are transforming, not blinded by their past wrongs! Praise the Lord for grace!

2nd Chronicles 15:1-2 “The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all of Judah and Benjamin: ‘The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, he will forsake you.”

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Regenerated and renewed by grace!

Scripture reading for July 13th: 1st Kings 15, 2nd Chronicles 13-14, Titus 3

Titus 3: 3-8 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”

Paul was always careful to emphasize God’s great mercy and goodness and grace shown in Jesus Christ. It is never our good works that save us. All our works done in the flesh are useless. We can only be justified by faith through the gift of God’s grace. Through that grace we become heirs of eternal life in God’s forever family. After salvation, we begin to walk with God and He shows us good works to do in response to His direction and love for all people. We who devoted ourselves to pleasing ourselves before salvation now devote ourselves to pleasing God through holy and loving obedience!

Titus 3:14 “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your gift of grace through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior! Thank You for renewing my spirit and soul by the indwelling Holy Spirit to love You and to love those You place in my path today. Open my eyes to the good works and urgent needs You want me to help with and direct me to learn to be devoted to these ‘good works’ in response to Your amazing grace!

2nd Chronicles 14:2-4 “And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers and to keep the law and the commandments.”

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Our Blessed Hope

Scripture reading for July 12th: 1st Kings 13-14, 2nd Chronicles 12, Psalm 47, Titus 2

Titus 2: 11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our Blessed Hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works.”

Paul emphasized to Titus, his younger protégé, that God’s grace for salvation was for all the peoples of the earth. God was in Christ redeeming people from all nations from the bondage of sin and was purifying for Himself a people for His own possession. They would belong to the family of God and would share God’s heart and passion for reaching lost souls. The vision of the coming of Jesus Christ would be a source of hope and blessing to His people. This would empower them to live godly lives of witness as they waited for the glorious appearing! The great King is coming soon!

Psalm 47:6-8 “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing grace towards Jew and Gentile through Jesus Christ. Your goodness has drawn me and many to repentance and faith. I await with eager expectation the “Blessed Hope” of the return of Jesus Christ the King! Lead me today in the good works You have prepared for me that I might bring You glory when You return!

2nd Chronicles 12:5-6 “Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘You abandoned Me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.’ Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is righteous.””

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Orderly Elders overseeing the Church

Scripture reading for July 11th: 1st Kings 12, 2nd Chronicles 10-11, Titus 1

Titus 1:5-9 “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you--if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

Paul wrote to Titus, another younger minister who grew up in the faith under his ministry. Paul had left Titus in Crete to oversee the church there and to set in order this body of new believers. This would require him to appoint ‘elders’ to oversee the church and keep the proper order. These elders must have their own lives in proper order to be effective in their assignments. They must have only one wife and have their children in proper order. Their own character must be soundly grounded in God’s Word and they must have their spirits under control from the pride and arrogance of the world and free from addictions and idolatry. They must be above reproach, having a good reputation in the Church as well in the culture they lived in. The Word of God must be firmly held and preached.

Titus 1:15-16 “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

Prayer: Father God, Thank You for the stewardship that You grant to Your people who You call into leadership to oversee Your Church. I have been blessed to be a part of that and to help equip others to also lead. Grant wisdom to those setting Your body in order. Guard Your church against professors that deny God by their works and ungodly life-styles. Help me daily to set a good and godly example.

1st Kings 12: 28-30 “So the king (Jeroboam) took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, ‘You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who have brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Then this thing became a sin, . .”

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Finishing the race with endurance!

Scripture reading for July 8th: Ecclesiastes 10-12, 2nd Timothy 4

2nd Timothy 4:5-8 “As for you (Timothy), always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved His appearing.”

Paul’s earthly life was at its ending. He encouraged Timothy, his son in the faith, to always be about the work of evangelism to which the Lord had called him. This would require sober-minded dedication and focus. Paul had set Timothy an example to follow of faithfulness, even to imprisonment and ultimately to being martyred for Christ. Paul had fought a good fight of faith, patiently and faithfully preaching and teaching God’s Word, and living it out by example. He had run his race to the finish line and awaited the crown of the victor, which the Lord would award him in the Day of Christ. This crown was for all who would fight to the finish and run to win.

2nd Timothy 4:17-18 “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Prayer: Lord, thank You for standing by me all the years of my life and for the promise You will bring me safely into Your heavenly kingdom! I am endeavoring to fight the good fight of faith each day and to finish the race You set before me. I claim by faith the crown of righteousness that Paul said was for all who loved Your appearing!

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

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Last-day difficulties

Scripture reading for July 7th: Ecclesiastes 7-9, Psalm 46, 2nd Timothy 3

2nd Timothy 3:1-5 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

Paul wanted Timothy, and us, to understand that this world would not get better as time went onward. The time before Jesus’ return would be marked by increased wickedness among the people of the world. They would be centered on ‘self’ and gratifying their flesh. They would be involved in idolatry and violence and seeking after pleasure rather than seeking after God. In all of this self-centeredness, they would cover themselves with a pretense of ‘godliness’ but lack any power of restraint from evil. Believers were to meticulously avoid association with such people. Their pursuit of God’s righteous and true holiness would bring the need for holy separation.

Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

Prayer: Father God, You are my refuge and strength in these times of difficulty and trouble. Help me to avoid the traps of these difficult times and to pursue true godliness and gently lead those who will listen to truth and escape from the snares of self-centered living and religion. Your Word is my guide and my message to keep my path straight and avoid a life ending in vanity.

Ecclesiastes 8:10 “Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity.”

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The pursuit of the godly!

Scripture reading for July 6th: Ecclesiastes 4-6, Psalm 125, 2nd Timothy 2

2nd Timothy 2: 22-26 “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil after being captured by him to do his will.”

Paul’s last instructions to Timothy, his son in the faith, was a warning and an encouragement. Timothy was warned to flee youthful passions and avoid those who wanted to wrangle over words and cause strife. As servants of God, His people are to be in ‘hot pursuit’ of God’s kingdom and His righteousness found through faith in His Word and grounded in His love and peace. This brings purity of heart to the believer and they can see God even more clearly and will be able to show the love and kindness of God to those involved in evil. Patience and gentleness must mark those who serve Christ Jesus. This contrasts with those ensnared by the devil. Our holy lifestyle can lead them to repentance and life through grace.

Psalm 125:1-2 “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, form this time forth and forevermore.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the advice of a Father through Paul to Timothy. I am warned, even in my old age, to avoid quarrels and arguments. Fill me with Your Spirit of patience and gentleness as I teach Your Word and seek to help those caught in the devil’s snare to find repentance and eternal life. Surround me with Your presence and make me stand firm, rejoicing in every opportunity to serve You.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 “Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil–this is the gift of God.”

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Not ashamed, fully convinced!

Scripture reading for July 5th: Ecclesiastes 1-3, Psalm 45, 2nd Timothy 1

2nd Timothy 1: 8-12 “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the Gospel by the power of God, Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed for I know Whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

This would be Paul’s last letter kept for us the Church. Paul was in prison facing certain execution and he wrote passionately and with purpose to his young protégé, Timothy. He encouraged him not to be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus Christ, which had gotten Paul in the place he was. He was also not to be ashamed of Paul, but to be willing to share in suffering for the Gospel. Paul’s reason was God’s great grace given to each believer and Jesus’ holy calling and appointment as a minister of the Gospel. The message of the cross and Jesus Christ alone has the power to bring abolish death and bring life and immortality to light to all who would hear and believe. Paul was also sharing his conviction that Jesus would fulfill His promise to him of life and immortality as well!

Psalm 45:6-7 “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness beyond Your companions, . .”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the assurances of Scripture and through Your apostles and prophets as they lived by faith and boldly testified of Your great love and promises. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and boldness today to share this message without shame or fear in a culture that is hopeless and lost in the darkness and sin. May Your glorious light shine into this darkness through Your appointed ones!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what has been planted.”

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Godliness and contentment!

Scripture reading for July 4th: 1st Kings 10-11, 2nd Chronicles 9, 1st Timothy 6

1st Timothy 6: 6-12 “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life, . . “

Paul encouraged Timothy to avoid the lure of money and riches as a means of finding meaning in life. This trap is an old one and is chronicled for us in the life of Solomon, whose riches brought him nothing but “vanity” or emptiness. It also turned his attention away from God, along with his many wives and concubines that his riches enabled him to have. True men and women of God will flee from this temptation, the ‘love of money’, and pursue by faith the kingdom of God. It is a ‘good fight’ because it yields eternal riches in God’s presence when Jesus Christ is revealed. We must keep our eyes on the true prize and not get distracted by the shiny objects!

1st Timothy 6:14-16 “. .to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will display at the proper time–He Who is the Blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen!”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I long to see You and to receive my full inheritance! Thank You for the Holy Spirit, Who empowers me to live in godliness and with contentment for the abundance I have been given here on earth. Keep me from ever being distracted by the love of money. May I always be in pursuit of Your righteousness which is by faith through grace. To You be honor and eternal dominion forever and ever!

1st Kings 11:6-8 “So Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.”

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Honor and discipline of elders!

Scripture reading for July 1st: 1st Kings 9, 2nd Chronicles 8, 1st Timothy 5

1st Timothy 5: 17-19 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”

The ‘elders’ in a church family are not necessarily old people. They are those set apart by God for spiritual leadership and specifically preaching and teaching the Word of God. This is a high calling and requires dedication and time spent with the Word of God and our Lord. These who work in this calling should have the double honor of compensation and respect for God’s calling and placing them in leadership as HIs servants. However, when there is flagrant sin in the life of an ‘elder’, the sin must be verified by two or three witnesses and an attempt made to confront and bring repentance. If sin persists, the church must be told and the elder publicly rebuked. God is not partial and neither should His church be.

1st Timothy 5:20 “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.”

Prayer: Father God, Thank You for calling elders to serve the Church, Your Body on earth. May I always honor the leadership You provide in giving respect and in giving to support them. As an elder, may I always be worthy of ‘double honor’ because I live humbly before You and do all things to Your glory, without partiality or prejudging.

1st Kings 9:6-7 “But if you turn aside from following Me, you or your children, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for My Name I will cast out of My sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.”

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