Archive for September, 2006

I Timothy 2

Paul gives Timothy some words of instruction. First, PRAY FOR EVERYBODY!!!! Yes, government leaders. The boss? Yep. This way we’ll live peaceful lives. I’ve noticed that when I dispute with those in authority, it can cause my life to be un-peaceful.

Paul reminds Timothy that he’s not lying; he’s a teacher of true faith to the Gentiles. I would think that Timothy had accepted this prior to the letter – without the reminder. Paul asserts his apostleship to Timothy, which doesn’t seem to fit with their close relationship. This puzzles me.

Back to instruction: LIFT UP HOLY HANDS IN PRAYER. No arguing. Women should dress modestly, and not too fancy; no extrqavagant personal display. Women should also be quiet long enough to learn something. That’s a challenge for some of us noisy types.

Since Adam came first, and was not deceived like Eve was, men should be in authority. Adam was intentionally disobedient, and Eve was just goofy? I don’t get that. I wish I could get some comments on this one.

It seems to me that holiness in prayer, avoiding arguments, dressing modestly, and learning in quiet submission are good for anybody… man, woman or child. I don’t know why they are specified as feminine virtues.

And there’s more: Women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. I don’t understand this either. I’d really love to hear from you folks on this passage.

1 Timothy 1

Part of the pastoral letters, in which Paul is addressing particular individuals. In this case he is addressing Timothy, his "true son in the faith."

Paul is again battling false doctrine, and urging Timothy to command people not to pay attention to "myths and endless genealogies." Paul characterizes this as "meaningless talk," and contasts it with "love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

After noting that the false teachers want to be teachers of the law, Paul then states the purpose of the law, which is not for righteous people, but for sinners. Interestingly enough, in his list of sinners, Paul references "slave traders" in verse 10. Somehow the people in the antebellum South never got around to quoting this particular piece of scripture in their Biblical justification of slavery.

We’ve talked about Paul as a braggart. Well, he’s certainly a braggart here, claiming to have been the worst of the sinners. However, his bragging is to prove a point – namely, that Christ can forgive anyone.

Paul refers to prophecies made about Timothy, but says no more about them. He does say, however, that Hymenaeus and Alexander have shipwrecked their faith, and that Paul is handing them over to Satan. Actually, Paul doesn’t have to do anything – when we depart from God, we only have Satan as our comfort.

P.S. Despite Paul’s claim, he is not the worst sinner of all. Exodus 32:19 identifies the worst sinner. See http://ologo66.blogspot.com/2006/09/exodus-32-verse-19.html (You may groan now.)

This chapter is awesome.  Paul is trying so patiently to help the Corinthians understand, they need to change their ways!

The Corinthians were testing Paul and he was going to prove to them just how Christ was speaking through him, by not sparing those who continued to sin after he warned them. Just like God is so patient with us and the grace that is available, but we can mess around sometimes too long. We need to be ready, grow in our faith, and test our spiritual behavior.  We must apply what we know and hear, not just listen to it! Paul speaks of how these issues need to be addressed in the church as well and not just smoothed over. Become mature in our faith and help others to mature in their faith.   

Paul had dealt with the Corinthians for some time now because he loved them so much.  It is hard to continue to deal with others that won’t help themselves, but with the love of Christ we are obligated to continue like Paul to try and bring others to grow in their faith… 

I love this part… Paul’s final greeting-  Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. This scripture shows that (The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit) was believed and experienced through grace, love and fellowship.  

We need to share, care and communicate more with others as hard as that is at times, it’s the Christlike thing to do…

2 Cornthians 12

I started out reading this and my first thought was that Paul has a big ego and he is a whiner.  Truthfully, I am pretty much convinced that he is both.  However, I am also convinced that God used this whiner with a big ego in amazing ways.  Paul even seemed to know that he had these particular human frailties.

God actually gave Paul a thorn in his flesh to keep his perspective aligned correctly and his eyes on God.  How often do we need something like this?  How often do our thought tend to stray from God and start to look at ourselves as our source of strength?

Maybe we actually need to ask God to give us a thorn in our side once in a while (or maybe all of the time.)

Paul finishes his boasting about the fact he will not boast, he then begins to whine.  It seems like the Corinthians were questioning Paul about his credentials.  They may have been wondering if he really was one of the people chosen by God to spread the Gospel. We really are not sure what exactly is the problem, but we do know that Paul does not feel he can be a burden to the people of Corinth.  As one who is more mature in his faith, Paul has to take care of them and not the other way around.

I have to admit that I do find Paul a whining egoist, but then I am one also.

A few weeks ago, I was commenting on another blog about how I think we may be asking the wrong questions about God when it comes to the idea that specific answers to prayer are promised. I have become more and more convinced that prayer is really about changing us. Prayer is really about us being on mission with God.

When I wrote these words in response to the blog post, one of the comments I received in return is what does this mean. What does being on mission with God mean?

The truth is, I have avoided answering this question because I really did not know what it means. Sure, I knew what it means theoretically, but I did not know what is means in reality. How am I to be on mission with God?

I have felt for a long time that I have been wandering around with God. The relationship has been great, but I was not going anywhere. This can be okay for a time. Sometime we need to just be patient and wait on God’s timing, but I have also felt like my waiting was more about my listening to God then God’s timing.

I finally have my answer and I am so thankful for it. Not long after I became a Christ-follower in April of 1996, I have wanted to work for an organization called Teen Challenge. However, no one just works for Teen Challenge. It is a mission, a calling, a passion. Teen Challenge must be an important part of your life because it cannot just be a job.

I have also had another dream God gave me. It is a dream to start a church that will truly reach out to people and express God’s love to them in a real way. It would be a church that accepts people the way they are and gives them the room and the space to work with the Holy Spirit. The Gospel is transformation and this take time, love and grace.

God have just given me the opportunity to do both dreams at one and I am amazed, overwhelmed and truly grateful. I just over six weeks, my family and I will be moving to Kansas City, Missouri to start a brand new Teen Challenge center. We have the opportunity to acquire a building that is perfect for the ministry and it also has an on campus church building. About a year or so after the Teen Challenge is started, I will be able to start the process of launching a real and relevant church.

Truthfully, I am scared and exhilarated. This is going to be an expensive endeavor. Over $1 million dollars needs to be raised. All my years of working in nonprofits has made me ready for this, but in the end, I know it will have to be God if this is to succeed.

I have been re-reading the book, The Cross and the Switchblade. It is the story of the founding of the first Teen Challenge center in New York City by Rev. David Wilkerson. Just like Rev. Wilkerson, I am going to have to have faith that the money will be provided. The beautiful part is that I truly do. I know this is God because I have a perfect peace about the whole thing.

II Corinthians 11

(I have been unable to comment on posts this week too, OE.   I’ll have my husband email everyone notification if I explode.)

Paul tells the Corinthian believers that he is jealous for them.  I take it that he didn’t like the thought of any rival to that of the gospel he preached to them.  If they would be swayed by false teaching, they would betray their lover (Jesus).  Paul wants them to be pure before him. 

Paul sarcastically refers to the ‘super-apostles.’  They were skillful speakers, promoting themselves.  Maybe Paul is so insistent upon promoting himself as a valid teacher of the gospel, since he was being compared to false teachers.  He stated that his message was delivered without charge, but was not without knowledge or clarity.  He asserts that the Corinthians were open to people who would exploit or enslave them.  He goes on to explain that he has better credentials:  Abraham’s descendant, worked harder than any other, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, been exposed to death repeatedly, 39 lashes/5 times, three times beaten with rods, once stoned, three times shipwrecked, one night and day in the open sea, constantly on the move, rivers, bandits, threatened by his own countrymen, threatened by Gentiles, lowered in a basket from a wall, gone without sleep, been hungry/thirsty/cold/naked (gasp!), inwardly burning with temptation to sin, seen danger in the city, danger in the country, danger at sea…

Paul boasts in his weakness and about his suffering.

I don’t think American believers have any concept of persecution.  With the exception of temptation to sin, (and maybe some rude comments) I’ve experienced very little hardship for the sake of the gospel.  Have you?

2 Corinthians 10

All of us who are contributing to this blog, either as authors or as commenters, are by definition writers. I have found that my writing style is significantly different from my speaking style. Part of this is, as others have observed, a writer is more prone to say things more bluntly than a speaker. (That’s why e-mails often cause so much trouble.)

Paul starts off by noting the same thing – remember his boldness in I Corinthians! – but then expresses the hope that he won’t have to be bold with the people of Corinth when he meets them in person.

Specifically, Paul thinks that he’ll have to be bold with "some people who think that we live by the standards of the world." But Paul, in his anticipated arguments, declares that he’ll have God’s power on his side.

Paul is apparently comparing himself to the self-proclaimed super apostles again. As part of his argument, he notes that these people "measure themselves by themselves and comapre themselves with themselves." Guess what? On such a scale, you’re bound to come up high. But Paul closes the chapter by noting that "it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." Something good for all of us to remember.

P.S. I’ve been having problems with comments here. Has anyone else?

2 Corinthians 9

 Paul is talking to the Corinthians about giving as they had said they would. The Corinthians said they would take up a collection and give it to the church in Jerusalem. Paul sent men to follow up and make sure that the collection was happening so that they may be prepared to give. Not giving as though they were scrapping together at the last minute. Giving an amount that we have prepared for is what God wants.  God wants our gifts prepared and generous not grudgingly given.

When we give, Paul says, we are not only helping God’s people, but we are giving thanks to God. God loves a cheerful giver. Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. When we give without hesitation there will be plenty to reap according to God’s word.

When we give freely we show our faith. When we give with hesitation we show lack of faith.

Paul tells of the spiritual rewards that will be given when we give generously to God’s work. We will have what we need and more to give. It never ends.

“He scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

 

The Macedonian churches, after surviving a tremendous trial, experienced great joy and this welled up into generosity. They gave themselves to God, then to others in His will. 

So, when we go through a trial, giving ourselves to God and His will, does this mean we will naturally feel generous?  I have experienced this, but I’m not sure there’s enough there to consider it a spiritual principal.  What do you think?

Paul encouraged the Corinthian folks to excel in the grace of giving, just as they did in the other persuits of faith, speech, and knowledge. His appeal included the following:

  • Giving would be a test of their love.  (Money is a symbol for value.)
  • Jesus was rich, but became poor for us so that we could be rich. (Don’t be too attached to what you have without considering where it came from.)
  • The previous year, they were interested and gave, so now they can match completion with willingness and give again. (They had already given once, and this alone was a reason to do it again.  I guess ‘I-gave-at-the-office’ would not be a generous response.  Paul says, ‘You gave before, so do it again.’)
  • It’s about what one has, not what he doesn’t have – their plenty could supply the need of others.  (If you have two coats and see someone in need of one…)

Paul thanks God for Titus, and others who are working in service of the church.   Give and give thanks. 

 

2 Corinthians 7

After ending chapter 6 by talking about being yoked with unbelievers, chapter 7 begins with a reference to purifying ourselves.

Paul then launches into a defense – “we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one” (verse 2). He then references a previous letter (again, I personally think that he’s referring to the letter in I Corinthians, but I can’t say this authoritatively), a letter which apparently led the people of Corinth to repentance. In verse 10, Paul clarifies the difference between Godly sorrow (which leads to repentance and salvation) and wordly sorrow (which leads to death). We are instruments, and God works through these admittedly imperfect instruments.

In a couple of places in the chapter, Paul refers to Titus and how the personal contact between Titus and the Corinthians, and Titus and Paul, was valuable. Even in this modern age, a personal visit is always valuable. (I have never physically met any of the people who are writing this blog now, or any of them who wrote in the past, but perhaps I’ll be in your area some day, or you’ll be out here.)