Scripture reading for October 16th: 1st Timothy 1:1-20
Paul’s letter to Timothy, his son in the faith was written to instruct a young pastor in leadership in the church. Timothy was a pastor of the church at Ephesus. There were false teachers and other issues in the church and Timothy was a young man who evidently struggled in leadership. Paul’s experience and ability to teach shine through this first of his ‘pastoral’ epistles.
Some of the false teachers were trying to teach the law. They were evidently coming out of a Jewish background and thought that adding the law would be logical to please God. “We also know that the law is not for the righteous, but for the lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which is entrusted to me.”
The Gospel declares a person righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, not by any works on our part. When the law is added to faith, the Gospel is made of no consequence. The only purpose that the law can serve is to reveal sin in sinners. It is like a mirror that shows sin, but cannot remedy or erase sin. Paul’s list of the types of sinners who need the law would have included many in Ephesus.
But Paul also told Timothy that sin had permeated his own life as well. Paul was once a blasphemer and violent man who was a respected teacher of the law! But God showed him mercy because of his ignorance of faith. “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 forever and ever. Amen.” (1st Timothy 1:15-17) God’s grace was available to all, even the worst of sinners! This amazing God was the King of Kings and deserves worship our worship today!
Scripture reading for June 27th: Acts 18:1-21
The apostle Paul always seemed to get in trouble as he preached about Jesus Christ in the synagogues. After leaving Athens and the confrontation with the intellectuals on Mars Hill, Paul went to Corinth and again went to the synagogue. There he encountered some interest at first, but soon was being opposed by some abusive Jews. Paul did as Jesus instructed, shaking out his clothes and stating, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles!” (Acts 18:6)
He went next door to the house of a man named Titius Justice, who was a worshiper of God. This means that he was a Gentile seeker who had attended the synagogue. Paul used his house to preach and the synagogue ruler Crispus and his entire household was saved! Many others were saved and baptized! (Acts 18:7-8)
Sometimes leaders need fresh vision and encouragement. Even though we are living life one day at a time, we need to know that we are in line with where God wants us. Sometimes we can feel His pleasure, but other times we feel the opposition and even fear. God knew that Paul needed encouragement to stay in Corinth for a more extended period of time so He gave him a vision. “Don’t be afraid; keep on speaking, don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:10) Many of God‘s mighty saints struggled with fear. The Holy Spirit gave them great boldness anyway and a vision and word of encouragement could keep them on track. Paul stayed in Corinth teaching for a year and a half.
As Paul left there, he went back to many of the churches he had started and preached to them. He had a ministry of encouragement and disciple making. He was particularly sensitive to the leading of the Lord. When asked by some Jews at Ephesus to stay and spend more time, he declined. He told them that he would come back if it was the Lord’s will. (Acts 18:21) God knows how to direct His disciples. We are all on a directed journey to accomplish God’s will and must finish our course! Are you listening to the Holy Spirit today?