Category: Pauline epistles–BibleTrekToday

Sunday Rest and Reflection: 1Timothy 1-3

Dear Friends,

Greetings on another day of rest!  We need to begin a new week with God’s people in worship of our great King!  We can rest in His love and celebrate His victory!  It is a command of Scripture to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together for regular worship, prayer, and sharing of community.  May your day be one of worship, rest and soul refreshing!

Today we must also continue reading if we are to finish our trek through the Bible.  The passage for today is Paul’s letter to Timothy.  Timothy is a young pastor, mentored by Paul, who was then pastoring the church at Ephesus.  Paul wrote to him to encourage him and instruct him in basic pastoral leadership.  Here are some of my favorite verses from our reading today.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.  Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:15-17

” I urge then, first of all that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:1-5

“Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:  He appeared in a body; was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” 1st Timothy 3:16

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day and each day this coming week!

In His Love, Pastor John

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The Man of Lawlessness and Rebellion

Scripture reading for December 5th: 2nd Thessalonians 1-3

Because of Christ’s love He has warned the Church about one man who will come that will be known for terrible evil and lawlessness.  This person will be called the ‘man of lawlessness’.  We should know about him to motivate us to tell as many people as possible about the Lord and warn others.

“Concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3)

The coming of Jesus Christ will happen suddenly.  (1st Thessalonians 5:2-3)  According to Paul, this day will not come until this lawless man is revealed.  Some in Paul’s day were saying that the day of the Lord had already come.  He wrote this to address the concern that some had missed the rapture.  We are still watching for this to happen today.

Paul goes on to describe the man of lawlessness as one who will opposes truth and set himself up as god.  He will do this through Satan by counterfeit signs and wonders.  (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-10)  These signs will deceive people who have refused to know and love truth.  They will be deluded and go to their destruction.  (2nd Thessalonians 2:11)

We have a choice each day to read and believe God and His word.  If we reject the truth, we have nothing left but a lie.  Lies may sound good, but they lead to destruction.  God chose us to be saved by the sanctifying work of the Spirit and belief of the truth.  This is all a gift of God’s grace.  Because of this grace will will share in the Lord’s glory when He comes.

Take time today to share Jesus Christ with someone who does not know Him.  Ask them if you can share this passage about the coming man of lawlessness.  Let the Holy Spirit lead both of you to discover truth and to love it!

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Comfort One Another

Scripture reading for December 4th: 1st Thessalonians 1-5

“They tell us how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us form the coming wrath.” (1st Thessalonians 1:9-10)

Every chapter of this short letter has a reference to Jesus Christ’s return.  Believers are focused on the greatest event that can happen to them, the return of Jesus Christ!  Jesus is alive as opposed to every other so called god who is lifeless or dead.  He rescues us from the coming wrath of God on sin and those who have not repented.  We wait eagerly for His return!

“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes?  Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” (1st Thessalonians 2:19)

Paul was expecting a reward when Jesus came back.  We should too!  Every soul who has been saved through our ministry or giving to the Lord will bring joy and a crown and glory!  This is the hope that we have as Christians!

“May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.” 1st Thessalonians 3:13

Paul prayed for strength in these believers’ hearts so that they would be able to stand before the Lord when He does appear.  It will be a glorious time for those who are ready.  Purity and holiness are required to see the Lord and to stand before Him!  May God strengthen our hearts today in preparation for that fast-approaching day!

“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will arise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Jesus is personally coming back for those who have trusted in Him.  The dead rise first to receive glorified bodies.  Then we who are alive will be caught up and instantly changed.  This will happen in an instant at the shout of the archangel and the trumpet call of God.  It will catch many by surprise!  What an event!  Lord Jesus, we want to see You!

“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” (1st Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Thankfully, Paul prays again for the Thessalonians.  (And us as well.)  Thankfully, Jesus Christ is faithful and He will keep us blameless!  What comfort!  Amen!

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Christ in You, the Hope of Glory!

Scripture reading for December 3rd: Colossians 1-4

Jesus Christ is the most important person in the entire universe!  He is the firstborn Son of God and is over all creation! (Colossians 1:15)  He is the head of all authority in heaven and on earth!  He created all things and holds it all together!  He existed before everything that was made and is clearly supreme in every way!

Jesus Christ is the head of the church, His body on earth and in heaven.  He birthed the church by dying sacrificially on the cross in order to redeem all mankind who would believe on Him.  He was also the firstborn from the dead by resurrection! (Colossians 1:19-20)  He reconciled us to God the Father, making peace through His own blood shed on the cross!  He now lives in us by the Holy Spirit who marks us as belonging to the Father.  This truth was a mystery hidden in God before Christ was revealed.  Now this mystery has been revealed through the Gospel and is available to Jews and Gentiles alike!

“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness–the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 2:26-27)

The greatest riches in the universe is Christ Jesus!  Having Christ in us brings joy, peace with God, and an unbelievable inheritance! Paul calls this inheritance the “hope of glory”!  When he talks about hope here, it is not “I hope that I see this glory”.  That is my “blessed hope”!  Hope is a firm expectation of coming good!  It is not some vaporous thought that maybe something will happen.  Hope doesn’t disappoint us because we know this glory is coming!  It is the glory of the resurrected Christ in His glory!  It is the glory of a resurrection body for us!   When we see Him, we shall be like Him in glory!  (1st John 3:2-3)  This hope causes us to purify our lives and live a righteous life of obedient faith.

Christmas is coming!  The best gift anyone could ever receive is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”!  Why not pray about sharing Christ with those you love who do not know Him?   The mystery is out in the open!  We can go public!  Pray like Paul in Colossians 4:3-6 that you may have an open door, proclaim the message clearly, and be wise!  God bless your giving!

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Imitating Christ’s Attitude

Scripture reading for December 2nd: Philippians 1-4

I can wake up on the wrong side of the bed!  Sometimes my attitude stinks!  I am occasionally withdrawn, grumpy, and irritable.  I can be centered on myself and what I want that day.  I am in need of an “attitude adjustment”!  The Word of God provides that for us.  As we take it into our minds and hearts, it can do surgery on us.  (Hebrews 4:12)  It is Spirit and life to us from the heart of God.  (John 6:63)  Jesus Christ, Himself, modeled for us the kind of attitude that would please God.  We read about it today in Paul’s letter to the Philippians!

Paul prayed a lot for those in Philippi.  There was a church there with saints, overseers, and deacons that he had helped to set in place.  He was confident that God would complete the work He had begun in each of them that had believed.  He prayed that the love of these believers would abound more and more.  (Philippians 1:6-11)  He wanted them to be filled with the fruits of righteousness so that the Lord would receive glory!

These saints and leaders were encouraged by Paul to be united in love and purpose.  (Philippians 2:2-3)  Unity comes from fellowship with the Holy Spirit and a humble spirit towards God and each other.  We must learn to bear with one another and try and look out for others rather than focusing on ourselves.  The best example of this is Jesus Christ.

Jesus had a perfect attitude.  He was God and owner and ruler of the universe, but He humbled Himself and took on human likeness through the incarnation.  He willingly laid down all the power and privilege of royalty to be obedient to the Father.  He even obeyed the Father by laying down His life on the cross, enduring the death of the lowest criminal.  Because of His obedience, God exalted Him to the highest place of all after the resurrection.  His Name, Jesus Christ, is the highest name in the universe!  Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!  Those who bow their knees now and confess now will enjoy eternity with Him!

We are working out our salvation while God is at work in us.  We humbly obey Him and do all we do without grumbling or complaining.  We know that God has given us the task of sharing the Word of life in Christ.  Our reward is sure!  We rejoice always!  (Philippians 4:4)   We pray about everything and enjoy the peace of Christ!  (Philippians 4:6-7)  We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us!  (Philippians 4:13)  We know that our God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus!  (Philippians 4:19)  What an attitude of victory and joy when we imitate Christ!

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Wise Living When Days Are Evil!

Scripture reading for December 1st: Ephesians 1-6

Ephesians is one of my favorite letters from God through Paul.  It contains amazing spiritual truth and insight for those in Christ’s church.  There is a wealth of encouragement and some fantastic prayers that lift us into the realm of God.  The simple Gospel is explained in Ephesians 2:8-11 in an easily understandable form.  The church and it’s purposes are laid out in Ephesians 4:1-16.  Following that, there are practical instructions for wise living for those in Christ.  I have often used these chapters in counseling others over the years I have ministered.  The last chapter helps us with spiritual warfare and the armor of God.  We are all in a battle against wicked forces in the heavenly realm.

“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:15-20

The only way to live wisely in these evil days is to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit!  This is not a one-time experience of speaking in tongues or an emotional high at a Christian meeting.  It is a personal relationship with God the Holy Spirit.  As we live full of the Holy Spirit, we live a life of worship.  We do this when we are alone with God and when we are around others.  When we are filled with the Spirit, we speak graciously to others.  Our speech is pleasing and in harmony with the Spirit of God.

Our speech is to be filled with thanksgiving to God the Father for everything.  We realize that everything we have is from God.  Our strength and health, as well as our material possessions, are gifts.  We are blessed by our relationship with God and realize all the blessing of being in Christ! (Ephesians 1:3-12)  Christ is the reason for all that we have and we bubble over with thanksgiving and melodious speech.  Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs come from our hearts as we are filled with thanksgiving!

This is the secret to wise living in evil days!   Ask the Lord to fill you afresh with the Holy Spirit today!  Begin your day with worship!  Read some Psalms like 96-100!  Sing a spiritual song of love, thanksgiving to the Lord from your heart!  Decide to speak in harmony with the Holy Spirit to everyone you meet today!  What a difference!  You will make the most of every opportunity!  May God unveil all the spiritual blessing that are yours today in Christ Jesus!  Let all who are in Christ be “being filled with the Holy Spirit!”

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Crucified and Risen With Christ!

Scripture reading for November 30th: Galatians 1-6

I hate legalism!  Some people, calling themselves Christians, make rules for how we must live and judge others by how they do or do not keep their rules.  They mean well but end up giving true Christianity a bad name. Some think that they are right to condemn others for the length of their hair, wearing make-up, or certain clothes.  Some judge others for having tattoos or body piercing .  Others are thrown out if they don’t believe in eternal security or baptism in the name of Jesus only.   The religious police are always out enforcing their version of “true” Christianity!

The Apostle Paul dealt with some people who tried to add the Old Testament Law to faith in Christ.  His approach to that subject is laid out in this letter to the Galatians.  He wasted no time setting this group of believers straight.  Paul taught that any addition to the simple Gospel of salvation by grace through faith was a perversion that was no Gospel at all!  (Galatians 1:6-7)  Paul warned these believers that anyone, even if it was an angel from heaven or himself,  who tried to preach another Gospel should be eternally condemned!  (Galatians 1:8-9)  That is very strong language! It is very serious business because it affects our eternal salvation!

This mixing of law and grace even affected Peter and Barnabas some 14 years after Paul’s conversion.  Paul found Peter withdrawing from the Gentiles and eating only with the Jewish believers who were teaching that circumcision was needed as well as faith.  (Galatians 2:11-16)  Paul rebuked Peter in front of them all for their hypocrisy!  They had given in to peer pressure and false teaching and moved away from the simple Gospel given them by the Lord Jesus.  This show us how easy it is to be taken in by legalism and false teaching.  If it could happen to Peter the Apostle and Barnabas, it could happen to us!

Paul made a statement that is one of my favorite as he tried to counter these false teachers.  I used to sing it in a Scripture song that has stuck with me even today.  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.” (Galatians 2:20-21)

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not earthly things.  for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-3

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Sunday Rest and Reflection: 2nd Corinthians 10-13

Dear Friends,

Welcome to another day of rest!  This cycle of working 6 and resting one day is really a gift from God for us!  God knows that we really need rest!  The rest we need is from trying to work for His approval!  In Christ, we are completely approved and accepted in the beloved!  Let’s enter this day fully resting in Christ!

In order to complete our reading this year, we must read for 5 more Sundays!  In our devotion, I have picked out several key scriptures to meditate on today.  May you find God speaking to you through His Word!

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” 2nd Corinthians 10:4-5

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2nd Corinthians 11:13-15

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.””  “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That’s why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? 2nd Corinthians 13:5

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2nd Corinthians 13:14

Resting in His matchless love,  Pastor John

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Abounding Grace!

Scripture reading for November 28th: 2nd Corinthians 6-9

“Remember this:  Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8

I love this passage of Scripture.  As a farmer who has sowed many fields with seed, I understand the principles of sowing and reaping.  When you sow seed, if you are stingy and sow less than needed, you will have a problem with weeds.  Weeds will come up and choke out the small amount of seed that you placed in the ground.  If you sow plenty of seed, it will produce an abundant crop.  A farmer must be willing to let go of the seed.  Sowing with a bad attitude doesn’t bring blessing.  The seed must be turned loose and let go of into the earth in order to produce.  We can’t hold onto it and expect a crop!  Sowing must be done in faith that a harvest will come.  Our hope is in the seed and the Lord’s grace to provide water and weather.

Our giving to God’s work is the same way.  The money is like seed.  It represents our life energy that we have spent working or investing.  As we give to God the tithe that belongs to Him and offerings, it is like seed sown into the kingdom of God.  We must turn loose of it and let it do it’s work of multiplication.  We give cheerfully and in faith believing that God will faithfully multiply the seed.  He is willing and able to make all grace abound to us!

I like the emphasis on the word “all” in this simple passage.  All Grace” abounds to the cheerful giver.  The giver has “all he needs” in “all things” at “all times”. God wants us to know abundance in our lives.  When we sow, we can expect blessing and sufficiency.  We actually set up a cycle of blessing that is described later in this chapter.  Our giving brings thanksgiving to God from those that are helped.  God gets tickled and gives you more seed to sow again.  This meets the needs of others who again thank God.  God gets tickled again and pours out even more blessing and multiplied seed so you can give even more!  More people are helped and thank God and the cycle goes on!  All grace abounds and you have all you need in all things at all times!  That’s a cycle of abounding grace that all believers should tap into!

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New Creation Realities!

Scripture reading for November 27th: 2nd Corinthians 1-5

Many Christians don’t realize who they really are in Christ.  They struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority. They try to be different and keep the rules or commandments but always fail or fall short. “Try harder!”, some well-meaning saints encourage!   But the harder they try, the more frustrated they become. The secret is in knowing who we are in Christ.

When we are truly ‘born again’, we are transformed inside by the Holy Spirit into new creations. (John 3:3-8) (2nd Corinthians 5:17)   As God blew breath into Adam and he became a living being, so the breath of God comes into us by the Holy Spirit and we become alive to God!  We haven’t just added a set of rules to live by.  We don’t just learn a creed of ethics that makes us different from other religions.  We don’t just go to church and sing songs and learn traditions.  Our life is brand new at it’s core, in our heart and spirit! We now have an eternal relationship with Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.  God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2nd Corinthians 5:17-21

We have a new identity!  The new creation that is formed in us by the Holy Spirit is reconciled to God.  We are no longer cut off from Him by sin.  God did this work of reconciliation at the cross.  He put our sins on His Son and the Son paid the penalty. We are adopted into God’s family and given the task of appealing to others on Christ’s behalf.   Our position is “ambassador” of Christ.  We are to implore men and women to be reconciled to God.  We have a divine purpose and our identity is with Christ instead of self and sin.  Low self-esteem is an old thing that is vanquished!  The new has come and is from God!

What a blessing to be forgiven!  What freedom to know eternal life and a relationship with our heavenly Father!  These new creation realities must be appropriated by faith and lived out daily.  Our God is for us and now we are for Him!  Appropriate your “ambassador” status today and implore someone you know to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ!  It’s who you really are and your divine purpose!

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