pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Godly Living

Reading: 1st Timothy 6: 6-19

Verses 11-12: “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith”.

Paul speaks to us today about the focus of our lives. Will the focus be on God or will it be on the things of this world? This battle is very real and is fought out throughout our lives. It is a temporal versus eternal battle. The world and Satan try and tell us that we find our happiness and joy in the material and in the pleasures of this world. The material can be possessions or money in the bank. The pleasures can be an extravagant vacation or prostitutes. It can be drugs or it can be in image enhancement surgery. All of these things require money. The pursuit of money to fuel our desires and pleasures can easily become “a root of all kinds of evil”.

Advising his young friend Timothy, Paul speaks against the pursuit of money… Our passage today begins with “godliness with contentment is great gain”. When our focus is on godly living we trust that God is good and that God provides all that we need. In this mindset we find real contentment. Paul points out the obvious – we take nothing with us when we leave this world. So why waste time chasing after these things? When we do we find that we do “wander from the faith” and we are “pierced with many griefs”. When our love is focused on money… it is not focused on God.

Instead, Paul encourages Timothy and us to “flee from all of this” and to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness”. When we do this, then we “fight the good fight of faith”. When we pursue these godly ways, then our focus shifts. Instead of focusing on ourselves and on our wants, we can see the other and their needs. It helps us to look outward in love instead looking inward in greed. It is a trust in God alone instead of a reliance on the next “thing” to bring us happiness that does not last.

The passage closes with some commands: do good, be rich in good deeds, be generous and willing to share. All of these come naturally when God is leading our lives. To cede that control is the first step of faith that leads to godly living. Once we take those first steps, we begin to build our lives upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. On that journey of faith we “take hold of the life that is truly life”.

Prayer: Dear God, stuff. Does stuff really matter? Well, no. But oh how I can chase after it sometimes. Turn my selfish desires away and build up in me more of a heart for others. Help me to trust in you alone. Be my all in all. Amen.


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Patience

Reading: 2 Peter 3: 8-15a

Verse Eleven: “What kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives.”

The followers of Jesus that lived in His lifetime thought that He would return very soon – in weeks or maybe in months.  But as the months turned into years and the years into decades, it became harder and harder to wait.  Not only did Jesus not return, but the Jews and other non-Christians were more than willing to remind them.  Over time the faithful began to wait with a patient and enduring hope.  Peter writes of this, saying, “He is patient… not wanting anyone to perish”.  Maybe God has not allowed Jesus to return just yet because there are still more souls to be saved.

I read a story in my devotional this morning about a woman who also held onto hope.  The militia had arrested her husband and son three years before, yet she continued to come every Monday, to the local police station, to hold a prayer vigil for her husband and son.  One day a guard mocked her and she replied with faith: “God’s justice will never fail.  It may come today or it may come in a 1,000 years, but it is coming”.  Her rock-solid faith allowed her to stand in the face of beatings and other persecutions to continue to pray for her family.  She stood on God’s promise to one day return and make all things new.

While all this is to say that God is patient, Peter also reminds us that the return will come like “a thief in the night”.  It will be quick and unexpected.  This idea makes me think of the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 attacks.  The Wall had seemed to stand forever – as long as anyone could remember.  Then one day, it was suddenly torn down.  The twin towers had always seemed to be in the skyline view, then one day they suddenly were not.  In light of this unknown time, Peter asks us, “”What kind of people ought you to be?”  Without pause he continues to answer the question, saying, “You ought to live holy and godly lives.”  He calls us to live as Jesus lived, holy and godly.

Yes, we will fall short at times.  Yes, we lose our grip on the promise now and then.  In our last verse, Peter adds a word of encouragement that we need to hold fast to: “Bear in mind that the Lord’s patience means salvation”.  It is a love that never ends and a mercy that washes over sin after sin.  Thanks be to God for your steadfast love and your patient mercy.


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The Good Fight

Reading: 1 Timothy 6: 11-19

A good life can be defined at least two ways.  For one, a good life is security, routine or order, a sense of success or accomplishment.  To have a safe home, ample food and clothing, a steady job that brings satisfaction, and good relationships with family and friends – to many this is the good life.  For others, for those who know God, a good life entails all of this and more.  For the believer, a good life is also a life lived for God, sharing God’s love and compassion with others.

In our passage, Paul is encouraging Timothy to be content in life and not to chase after the ever elusive”more”.  Paul encourages Timothy to pursue the things of God: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, gentleness, and endurance.  Paul knows Timothy will need all of these things.  Some will help Timothy to continue to grow in his faith while these same characteristics and the others will help him to share his faith with others.  A good life not only includes a relationship with God but also with the community of believers and with the stranger one meets.  Paul reminds Timothy to “fight the good fight of the faith”.  He goes on to tell Timothy to take hold of the confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior and to fully live this out in his own life.  Paul calls on Timothy to live faithfully, to shine the light of Jesus with all he meets as he proclaims the good news and as he personally pursues God.

We too can take these words of encouragement to heart.  We too can choose to claim our relationship with our Lord and Savior, with Jesus Christ.  And we too can fight the good fight of the faith, loving God and loving others with all that we are.  It is in doing these things that we take hold of eternal life – the life really worth living.  This day and every day may we fight the good fight of the faith, bringing honor and glory to God in all we do.


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Draw Near

There are two primary factors that define who we are: what we surround ourselves with and what we take into ourselves.  Some of the things we surround ourselves with are the people we spend time with, the places and events we go to, and the activities we engage in.  What we take into ourselves includes the things we read and listen to, the things we look at and watch and surf to, and the conversations we choose to be a part of.  These are all things that influence our decisions and things that become our thoughts, ideas, and opinions.

Our two primary options in what we surround ourselves with and what we take in are God’s wisdom and the world’s wisdom.  If we surround ourselves with immoral people, we tend to do immoral things.  On the other hand, if we choose to surround ourselves with Christian people, we tend to engage in godly activities.  If we spend time in the Word, we are built up and grow in our wisdom of God.  If we instead surf for illicit pictures online, we fill ourselves with lust and evil thoughts.

We face these decisions all the time.  Although God is always pursuing us, so is the world.  Even though the Holy Spirit is right there speaking into our heart and mind, the deceiver is right there whispering in our ear.  We make decisions each day that either draw us closer to God or further from God.  Sometimes the choices to fill ourselves with the things of God and to surround ourselves with others making the same choices are difficult.  God promises to draw near to those who draw near to Him.  Draw near to me today, O Lord.  Draw near.

Scripture reference: James 4: 1-8